No one likes the idea of being pulled over by the police. It can be intimidating, especially if you’re not sure what to expect. However, with a little knowledge, it doesn’t have to be a frightening experience.
Additionally, with the right lawyer at your side, you can navigate the experience and get the best possible outcome for your situation. If you were pulled over in Florida, there is some information you may find helpful.
Most people think that DUI only means driving under the influence of alcohol. While alcohol may be involved, DUI is not solely based upon consumption of alcohol. A driver can get a DUI if they have been driving while impaired as a result of consuming alcohol, drugs (prescription or recreational), or a combination.
It is also possible to get a DUI without physically moving your vehicle. If you “operate” or are in “actual physical control” of a vehicle while you are impaired, you can be arrested for DUI.
If you have been pulled over by a police officer, the first thing to keep in mind is to remain calm. Do not provide any information that may potentially incriminate yourself. You are required to provide basic information to the officer, such as your name, but you do not need to tell the officer where you are coming from or what you’ve been doing.
Always be polite and remain calm—and never lie to the police officer. While the officer will ask questions in an attempt to gather evidence of your potential intoxication, the best way to handle questions is to politely tell the officer that you will not answer questions until you’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lawyer.
If you have been pulled over, the police officer may ask you to submit to a field sobriety test. There are several common tests that the officer may use to test whether your ability to drive has been impaired, including:
What is Alcohol/Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus?
This test involves the officer holding a pen or flashlight about 12 inches from the driver’s face and asking the driver to watch the pen as they move it from side to side. The idea is that the eyeball will jerk involuntarily when the pen is moved to the side as far as possible. The higher the driver’s blood alcohol content, the more the eyeball will jerk.
DUI Field Test: Standing On One Foot While Counting
For this test, the driver will stand on one foot, hands at their sides, with the other foot extended in front of them. The police officer may ask the driver to count at the same time, keeping track of how successfully the driver is able to complete the task.
DUI Field Test: Walking Heel-To-Toe/Walk And Turn
The police officer will often demonstrate this test before asking the driver to do the same. The driver will need to walk a straight line, touching the heel of one foot to the toe of the other. The officer may also give an instruction to walk a certain number of steps, turn around and walk back to the starting point, all heel to toe.
DUI Field Test: Finger-To-Nose
The driver begins this test with their arms extended straight out. They will then touch their nose with an index finger while their eyes are closed. They may alternate between left and right hands.
Other tests may ask you to recite the alphabet or count backwards from a specified number.
The driver has the right to refuse to submit to field sobriety tests, although the police officer might not tell you that. If you have been drinking, it may be in your best interests to decline to take the field sobriety tests (no matter how simple they may sound). Many police cars now have dashboard cameras, and your performance on the tests can be filmed and used in court.
If the officer does arrest you for DUI, you will be asked to take a Breathalyzer test. You may also be asked to submit to other chemical testing (such as blood or urine samples). These chemical tests are intended to check your blood alcohol level (or BAC).
Any BAC of 0.08% or higher is considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol. While Florida law states that the Breathalyzer test is voluntary, refusing to take it can cause more problems, such as an automatic suspension of your driver’s license.
In DUI cases, the prosecution must prove that your blood alcohol content was above the legal limit while you were driving. However, investigations take time, so there’s always a delay between when you were driving and when the testing is conducted.
However, if the police test a DUI suspect within a “reasonable time” after pulling over the driver, the test results may be admissible in court.
If there is probable cause to believe that the driver is impaired, the police officer can arrest the driver for DUI. After the arrest, the driver’s license will be confiscated and the driver will be taken to the police station for chemical tests (like Breathalyzer, blood, or urine samples) to confirm intoxication.
If you are facing a DUI, it is in your best interests to DUI/DWI lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney experienced with Florida law can help you maneuver the legal system, analyze your situation, and plan your best course of action.
They can also give you advice on your rights, what to do during or after your arrest, prepare your defense, and speak on your behalf in front of the court.