Anyone facing DUI charges in the state of Florida should be exploring every possible defense avenue to reduce penalties or avoid them altogether. Even if the prosecution has a chemical sample from when you were arrested with a BAC (blood alcohol content) over the legal limit, all hope is not lost. Some defenses could make statements and evidence inadmissible in court. Without these evidence exhibits, the prosecution’s case against a defendant is too weak to proceed. Some defenses may be so strong that they force the court to drop the charges against the defendant. They could also be leveraged in negotiating a better plea deal that decreases the negative impact a DUI arrest has on the defendant’s life. Anyone facing DUI charges in the state of Florida needs to take them seriously and begin working on a defense strategy as soon as possible. For your free consultation with The Watson Firm, PLLC, click here or call 850-607-2929.
Some defenses against DUI charges are rooted not just in the Florida state Constitution but in the U.S. Constitution as well. If the police or prosecution violates a defendant’s constitutional rights in pursuing DUI charges, it could exclude evidence or cause the case to be dismissed. A criminal case can be dismissed with or without prejudice. When a case is dismissed without prejudice, that means that the prosecution can refile the case and resume charges against the defendant. If a case is dismissed with prejudice, the defendant can be confident that the legal matter is concluded.
Even if it’s Saturday night near the stadium after a big football game, a police officer can’t pull over a driver for a DUI check based on a mere gut instinct. A police officer must have reasonable suspicion that a driver is impaired to pull them over and check. If a police officer lacked the requisite reasonable suspicion, the defendant could have a constitutional defense to the charges against them. However, there are a wide variety of activities that could satisfy the requirements for reasonable suspicion when it comes to driving under the influence. There are obvious behaviors like swerving, running stop lights and stop signs, failing to use headlights and turn signals, etc. A police officer could also have adequate reasonable suspicion to pull someone over for more minor driving errors like speeding, drifting in a lane, rolling through a stop, and more. Someone arrested for DUI in Florida should write down the details of their arrest to the best of their memory as soon as possible after being released from jail, if applicable. These details can be reviewed with a defense attorney for constitutional violations.
It is important to note that there can be situations that seem like exceptions to the constitutional requirement for reasonable suspicion. DUI checkpoints have been upheld time and time again by courts as constitutional. Also, keep in mind that reasonable suspicion is the constitutional standard to stop and check a suspect for DUI but not to place the suspect under arrest.
A police officer needs reasonable suspicion to pull over a driver and do a sobriety check, but the standard necessary to place the driver under arrest is probable cause. While reasonable suspicion and probable cause are both fairly vague terms, probable cause is generally understood to be a stricter standard than reasonable suspicion. Someone who is driving under the influence may display several signs of intoxication sufficient for probable cause after being pulled over. For example, someone who is driving drunk may slur their speech, reek of alcohol, and have flushed skin. A driver who is high on marijuana may have red eyes and delayed reactions. The police officer should then confirm this through chemical testing, at which point the defendant can be placed under arrest if their BAC exceeds the legal limit.
It’s important that when the police place someone under arrest, they read that person their rights. Miranda rights include the right to remain silent, the right to a court-appointed attorney, and more. The police’s failure to read Miranda rights probably won’t cause a case to be dismissed, but it could exclude statements made to the police while in custody after they failed to administer Miranda warnings. Anyone arrested for DUI in Florida who wasn’t read their Miranda rights should discuss their situation with a criminal defense attorney.
Improper Field Sobriety Testing
Not everyone who is pulled over for suspicion of DUI will have to take a breathalyzer test. Sometimes, the police can rule out the possibility of intoxication based on field sobriety testing. However, field sobriety testing done under the wrong conditions could make a sober person mistakenly seem impaired. Unlike chemical tests, there is no penalty for declining field sobriety testing when pulled over by a police officer. Inclement weather conditions, road hazards, injuries and disabilities, and other factors could all cause someone to fail a field sobriety test when they haven’t ingested an intoxicating substance. The most common field sobriety tests in Florida are the walk and turn, standing on one leg, and the vision test, or the horizontal gaze nystagmus. A defendant arrested for DUI based on their field sobriety test results should review their case with a qualified defense attorney as soon as they can.
Errors With BAC Results
There are certain procedures that the police are supposed to follow when administering breathalyzer tests, such as conducting a 15-minute observation period to make sure the driver doesn’t eat, drink, burp, vomit, or do anything else that could tamper with the breathalyzer’s results. The driver also could have a medical condition that causes a false reading, or there could be some other technological error. Additionally, the proper protocol may not have been followed when testing, transporting, and storing chemical samples.
Our Florida Defense Team Will Fight For Your Rights
DUI charges are a serious matter in Florida, and someone facing them needs a strong legal strategy with expert representation. At The Watson Firm, PLLC, we strive to offer premier quality defense representation so our clients can move on with their lives after an arrest. To schedule your free consultation, call 850-607-2929 or click here to schedule your free consultation.