The Best Defenses for a DUI Charge in Florida
Understanding the protocols and legal obligations of law enforcement when receiving a DUI could help save money by getting charges dropped or reduced
The process of a DUI charge is important to understand. In order for a person to be charged with a DUI, law enforcement must prove that the individual they are charging was driving under the influence.
An individual accused of a DUI can fight their charges in hopes to get their charges reduced or dismissed. If this happens the prosecution must be able to prove without a shadow of a doubt that the individual was driving a vehicle and that the individual was under the influence.
The DUI Process
Understanding the DUI process is important for an individual to build a solid defense. When a police officer is charging an individual with a DUI they must follow particular protocols and regulations in order for the charge to be legit. Common procedures for a DUI charge from law enforcement are as follows:
• The traffic stop
• The field sobriety test
• The breathalyzer test
• Miranda rights being stated
Numerous factors could skew the results of the above procedures and if the arresting police officer did not follow proper protocol then charges could be terminated.
The Traffic Stop
The state of Florida is strict on the point that an officer can only stop a person for one of two reasons:
A) The officer has has a rational suspicion that the individual driving is committing a traffic violation
B) The officer has probable cause that the person or persons in the car are committing a crime’
If it is proven that the reason for the officer stopping the individual was not acceptable then all evidence in the case will be dismissed.
The Field Sobriety Test
The field sobriety test is a subjective test that is not always 100% accurate. It is designed to determine if a person is inebriated by comparing normal behavior and functionality to the abnormal behavior and coordination that comes with a person being intoxicated. Officers can perform a variety of tests, but there are only three tests that have been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These three tests are:
• The horizontal gaze nystagmus test (Involuntary eye movement)
• The one leg stand test
• The walk and turn test
There are numerous issues that can arise from the field sobriety test that can make for a good defense. The most important one is the subjective nature of the test.
For example, one person may be a skilled athlete and have excellent coordination skills while another person may be naturally uncoordinated. The athlete may be able pass the field sobriety test with flying colors even though they are highly intoxicated. On the other hand the person who is naturally uncoordinated may fail the test while being sober. This poses a problem with the results of the test.
Another reason isdue to illnesses and ailments that a person may have. For example, a person may have a back problem that impairs their ability to perform a one leg stand test. In addition, a person may have an eye condition which impairs them to follow an object when taking the horizontal gazenystagmus test.
Physical ailments can impair the results of the field sobriety test and make the results inadmissible in court.
The Breathalyzer Test
The breathalyzer test is a test that calculates a person’s blood alcohol concentration by the person blowing into the machine. Technology can havea mishap which is why the breathalyzer test is strictly monitored and regulated.
When a police officer is administering the test they must managethe test in a specific manner. If they do not follow proper protocol then the results of the test can be dismissed no matter how high the blood alcohol concentrationlevel was.
Specific regulations that an officer must abide by when administering the test are as follows:
• The officer must observe the individual for 20 minutes prior to the test being taken
• The officer mustregulate the machine properly prior to testing
• The officer must read Florida’s Implied Consent Law correctly to the individual
• The officer must tell the individual to “keep blowing” during the breath test
If the officer does not follow these regulations properly then the results of the test will not be deemed accurate.
A person has the right to refuse a breathalyzer test but if they do so then their license will automatically be revoked for up to a year.
Miranda Rights Being Stated
When being arrested, an officer is obligated to read the person their Miranda Rights. This allows the arrestee to know what they have the right to do and to not do. One of the most common lines known in the Miranda Rights is the “right to remain silent.”
This is important to know because some officers may try to use information a person provided them with while being arrested without informing such person that they were going to use that information in a court of law.
Officers do have the right to question an individual and ask them about illegal activities. But, if they are going to arrest a person for a DUI then the arrestee must be informed of their rights before questions are asked that can be used against them in a court of law.
It is always best for a person to remain silent when being arrested and to contact a lawyer to defend their rights if for any reason they feel as though they would like to fight their DUI charge.