Fighting a DUI Charge in Florida
If you’ve been arrested for DUI, you could face jail, fines, a suspended license, and an embarrassing criminal record. It’s essential that you take a proactive approach to your defense. Weinstein Legal represents individuals accused of drunk driving in Central and South Florida. Call today to discuss the circumstances surrounding your arrest with our experienced DUI attorney.
What Happens During a DUI Arrest?
In Florida, an officer making a DUI arrest must adhere to strict protocols. If they deviate from these steps, a DUI Lawyer can file a motion to suppress evidence, leading to a dismissal.
Probable Cause for the Stop
The police must have a valid, legal reason to stop you. Here are some of the most common reasons the police stop accused drunk drivers:
- Violation of a Traffic Law – This could be a moving violation, like speeding or running a stop sign, or a non-moving violation, like a tail light out.
- Irregular Driving Pattern – While you may not have violated a traffic law, certain behaviors match with drunk driving: heavy braking or acceleration, wide turns, or swaying within your lane are just a few examples.
- Responding to an Accident – If you are involved in an accident, the police can investigate you for DUI, even if you weren’t at fault.
- Valid DUI Checkpoint – DUI checkpoints must be approved, and the location must be published in advance. They usually occur on weekends and holidays. If you are stopped in one, the police may investigate you for drunk driving.
- Sleeping in parked car – you may be sleeping off your night in a parking lot of a bar or concert venue. Officer’s can arrest you if you are in actual physical control of the vehicle and the vehicle has the ability to operate.
- Medical emergency – if the officer’s believe you are ill, injured, or having some medical emergency, based on your driving pattern, checking on your well-fare could be a valid reason to pull you over.
Officers must be able to articulate specific indicators or behaviors that are consistent with intoxication. Some of the most common indicators include the following:
- Bloodshot eyes
- The odor of an alcoholic beverage
- Slurred speech
- Puffy or red skin
- Unsteady balance
- Fumbling movements
- Unable to understand instructions
Field Sobriety Exercises
If the police believe you are drunk and operating a vehicle, they may ask you to participate in voluntary roadside exercises. You have the right to refuse these tests, and it may be in your best interest to do so. The officer will video-record your performance as evidence of your intoxicated state. An officer must demonstrate and explain each test before asking you to perform them. In Florida, the roadside exercises are:
- One-Leg Stand
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
At this point, the police will make a decision on whether or not to arrest you. If you do not perform the tests, the officer may arrest you based on their observations, but the case against you may not be as strong.
Implied Consent and BAC
The arresting officer will read the implied consent warning, usually from a prepared text. This is a reminder that you have implicitly agreed to submit a breath or urine test as a condition of operating a vehicle on Florida roadways. If you refuse, they will suspend your license for at least 12 months on a first offense, and up to 18 months on a second offense (where you can also be charged with an additional misdemeanor for refusing the breath/blood/urine test for a second or subsequent time). However, if you submit to a breath test, they will have your BAC results as evidence and this may provide them with exactly what they need to convict you.
The apparatus that the police use to take your breath test must be regularly maintained and calibrated. The officer recording the results must be a certified breath test operator.
Defense Strategies a DUI Lawyer Can Use
While the DUI investigation process can potentially provide prosecutors with a tremendous body of evidence, a defense lawyer can use any errors or deviations to fight your charges. Common defenses include the following:
Officers can’t just stop you because they saw your car leaving a bar or party. They must have a legal reason for the stop. If they fail to provide one, it is grounds to suppress the stop, which should lead to a dismissal.
Incomplete or Improper Probable Cause
Some officers aren’t meticulous in documenting their observations. This can be used by a defense attorney to find flaws in the officers’ testimonies during their depositions.
Coerced or Improper Roadside Exercises
The police can’t force you to perform roadside exercises. Forced roadside exercises are inadmissible. There are other ways to attack roadside exercises, as well. If the surface was uneven, poorly lit, or near traffic, for instance, the court might rule the evidence is inadmissible.
Faulty Breath Test
The prosecution must be able to show that the instrumentation was working properly at the time the sample was taken. They must also be able to prove that the operator was properly certified.
There are many more ways an experienced DUI attorney can fight your DUI charges. Contact Weinstein Legal today.
Why a Lawyer Can Be Your Best Bet for Beating a DUI Charge
Hiring an experienced DUI attorney can help you beat your case or at least get a reduced sentence. This is because DUI lawyers have experience reviewing prosecutorial evidence and finding weaknesses in DUI cases. Once a defense attorney finds an error in the case, they can fight to suppress evidence. In the end, the prosecutor often decides that it’s better to negotiate or drop the case.
Frequently Asked Questions About Florida DUIs
Many individuals charged with DUI start their search with “criminal defense attorney near me,” which is fine to start but to find specific information about your charges, you should make an appointment to speak to a DUI attorney near you today. With three offices in South and Central Florida, there’s bound to be a Weinstein Legal office near you:
Here are some of the criminal defense FAQs asked by our clients:
Can You Fight a DUI in Florida?
Absolutely! There are many battle-tested defense strategies. Each case is different, however, so contact Weinstein Legal for a full case analysis.
How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record
Your criminal record is permanent unless you have it expunged. You can only expunge a case if it is completed dismissed. Once convicted of a DUI, you can never expunge it.
South and Central Florida DUI Attorneys
Weinstein Legal has successfully represented hundreds of clients against DUI and other criminal charges. If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Florida, your freedom and future may be at stake. Contact Weinstein Legal for a solid, aggressive defense against DUI charges.