Nobody likes to see those flashing blue and white lights in their rear-view mirror. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, it’s not always easy to remain calm and collected during a police stop. This is especially true if you’ve had a few drinks and you’re not sure if your blood/breath alcohol content (“BAC”) is over the legal limit.
If you believe that you might be arrested for DUI, your defense will begin the moment the officer stops your vehicle. There are steps you should take and mistakes you must avoid to put yourself in a favorable position to fight the charges. Most importantly, do not volunteer information, say as little as possible, be polite, be respectful but do not feel as if you have to agree or acquiesce to anything. We cannot tell you to do any tasks or testing or not to as this decision should be based upon many factors unique to you and your case. Likewise, either decision could have consequences to your case and/or your life. As a general rule, I would personally not do the roadside exercise because I have physically injuries/issues that would impair my performance under the best of circumstances. In fact, when I was a young prosecutor in my office, prior to the issues I now have that would hamper my performance, the roadside exercises were administered to me by one of the most experienced DUI cops in Broward County. Upon completion, he laughed and said if this was out on the road, he would have arrested me. I had no drugs or alcohol in my system at the time. However, if I was confident that I could not have consumed enough alcohol (knowing and understanding about alcohol quantities, what constitutes “a drink”, absorption, etc. which most people do not properly understand on a scientific level) and had not taken any drugs or chemical substances, I would likely submit to testing. On the other hand, we have seen test results from breath, urine and blood that we genuinely believed resulted in an inaccurate reading which is also a good reason anyone may refuse such testing. Understand, complying and/or refusing both have various potential consequences.
If you were arrested for DUI in south Florida, contact Leader & Leader P.A. Michael D. Leader is a dui defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale who will investigate all aspects of your case from first contact with the police all the way through the time you are booked to identify any potential legal and/or procedural errors made by the police that could work in your favor.
As a client of Mr. Leader, you will have access to him twenty hour hours a day, seven days a week if you have an emergency or urgent need outside of “regular” business hours; he is very accessible and responsive to all of his clients. Call 954-523-2020 to discuss your case in a free initial consultation.
Let’s examine a few mistakes you should avoid if you are stopped under suspicion of DUI:
- Taking Field Sobriety Tests
Florida is an implied consent state, which means that if you are lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe that you were driving under the influence, you must submit to a chemical test (breath, blood, or urine) or your driver’s license will be suspended (although you may be eligible for a license for work and other necessities for the entire suspension and/or can contest the suspension in an administrative hearing).
However, Florida’s implied consent law does not apply to field sobriety tests. According to the American Automobile Association, the three standardized field sobriety tests are:
- The walk and turn test;
- The horizontal gaze nystagmus test; and
- The one-leg stand test.
If you consent to these tests and perform poorly, the prosecuting authority can use that fact against you in court; however, you can refuse to do them but the State may be able to argue the refusal was a consciousness of your guilt. Other roadside exercises are used by many officers beyond those noted above.
- Making Incriminating Statements
Although you should never lie to a police officer, it is important that you exercise your right to remain silent. Even if the officer has not read your Miranda Rights, your statements can still be used against you in court in most DUI roadside scenarios. The Miranda Rights are generally only required to be read when you are taken into police custody. There are other exceptions that may apply to your case which is why it is essential to speak with a true DUI defense lawyer and not just a criminal defense lawyer that happens to also take DUI cases.
- Not Requesting a Criminal Attorney
Police officers are trained to coerce people into making incriminating statements. This is why it is so important to request to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Do not answer any questions until you have an attorney present. Be polite, respectful and merely let them know that you are being accused of unlawful conduct, whether by mere suspicion being investigated or arrest, and you are not comfortable answering any questions or doing anything further without speaking to counsel. Remember, we are not telling you to do or not to do roadsides or to submit to any testing (breath, blood or urine) as this is a case by case decision. If you have previously refused a breath, blood or urine test, a second refusal can be the basis of an independent crime in Florida which is one of many reasons no one should give blanket advice about what to do. Typically, in cases in which they are seeking blood, it is often a good idea to decline but again, we cannot give anyone blanket advice on this issue as in your particular situation there may be a reason to give the blood and/or it may be a separate criminal charge to refuse if you have refused in the past. We would never direct anyone to knowingly violate the law.
DUI suspects aren’t the only ones who make mistakes during traffic stops. The police often make procedural errors such as stopping a driver without probable cause, failing to calibrate or administer the breathalyzer properly, or not reading the suspect’s Miranda Rights after making the arrest. If any of these errors occurred during your arrest, it may be possible to convince the court to throw out crucial evidence, which may lead to the dismissal of your case.
Michael D. Leader can investigate your arrest to look for any procedural errors and other opportunities to fight your charges. Call 954-523-2020 today to schedule a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer in Fort Lauderdale.