Do I Need a Lawyer to Fight a DWLS Case?
There are a variety of factors at play in a case of Driving While License Suspended, Revoked, or Canceled (DWLS) (Florida Statue 322.34), such as: Were you driving while knowing that your license was suspended? Is this your first offense? Did you cause serious bodily harm to someone? Etc.
If you get caught driving with a suspended license, you can definitely fight the charges yourself. This means taking time out of your day to appear in front of the judge during each court hearing. The judge or prosecutor may extend a plea bargain to you in order to resolve your case. That plea bargain may seem tempting but may very likely carry unintended consequences. For example, a DWLS with Knowledge charge is criminal in nature and thus may impact your future employment opportunities.
A Withhold of Adjudication (no conviction) and court costs may sound like a great deal but even a Withhold will count as a strike against you. If you accumulate 3 strikes within 5 years, the DMV may classify you as a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) and revoke your license for 5 years.
Even though hiring an attorney can sound expensive, in the long run, it can be a good investment. With the experience of an attorney, you can be back on the road in no time. They may even be able to keep you out of jail if you have multiple prior DWLS convictions on your record. A third criminal conviction carries a minimum 10-day jail sentence unless the attorney can have your charge dismissed or reduced.
If you try to fight a DWLS case on your own, there is a chance you may make it even more difficult to reinstate your driver’s license. Then you’ll have to rely on others to drive you around or pay for Uber/Lyft to get you where you need to go. Plus, having to take time off work to attend court hearings and paying court fines can end up being more expensive.
If you hire an experienced Florida DWLS attorney, they will be able to appear in court on your behalf so you won’t have to take time out of your day to appear. Since attorneys have an understanding of the legal system, they also can negotiate on your behalf to try and get a lesser charge to allow you to keep your license and stay out of jail. Additionally, the attorney can likely help you with the reinstatement of your license!