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Winston Law PA
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What should I do if I am pulled over for DUI?

What should I do if I am pulled over for DUI?

Most of us have learned that drinking and driving is dangerous.  We
take great care to make safe decisions when we are drinking.  Unfortunately, decision making combined with alcohol can lead to unsafe choices.  If you have been drinking and make the choice to drive, it is important to understand your rights.

In Florida it is not illegal to drink and drive.  It is however, illegal to drive while your normal faculties are impaired or with a blood or breath alcohol level of .08 or higher.  For each person the amount of alcohol consumption to reach this standard will differ.  If you have been drinking and
are driving the following information is extremely important and may help you to avoid a conviction for DUI.

A police officer can begin a DUI investigation if they have reasonable suspicion that you are driving impaired or with a blood or breath alcohol level of .08 or higher.  Often police look for certain signals including; swerving while driving and traffic infractions.  Police are also on higher alert for DUI at night, on the weekends and in locations where people are likely to drink.  Once pulled over, police look for other signs of impairment including, bloodshot or glassy eyes, the odor of alcohol, slurred speech, swaying, etc.    If you are stopped for DUI it is extremely important to be respectful of the police officer.  Be polite, roll down your window just enough to interact with the officer, retrieve your driver’s license without fumbling or shaking. If a police officer has reasonable suspicion to
believe imparied they will begin a DUI investigation.

This investigation begins with roadside tasks.  These tasks include the finger to nose test, walk and turn, the one legged stand, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus.  The police will use these tasks to assess your level of impairment. Your performance on each task may be recorded.  Regardless, each and every mistake you make during these tasks will be used against you.  That is why the best approach is to not perform any of these tasks.  Do not be rude or disrespectful but simply decline to submit to the roadside tasks.  If you do choose to perform the roadside tasks be sure to explain any injuries you may have that could affect your balance.  Try to keep your speaking to a minimum.

After the roadside tasks, the police will likely transport you to the Breath Alcohol Testing (BAT) Center to have you submit to a breath test.  While in the police vehicle remember to remain quiet, be still, and do not fall asleep.  Once at the BAT Center you will be watched for 20 minutes and several questions will be asked of you.  You have the right not to incriminate yourself.  Do not answer questions regarding how much you’ve had to drink, what you’ve eaten, or how long you’ve
been awake.  It’s safest not to answer questions beyond your name and contact information.

Upon completion of the 20 minute observation period, you will be asked to take a breath test to determine your breath alcohol level.  A breathalyzer test measures the driver’s breath alcohol content (BAC) by taking a breath sample and measuring the breath alcohol content per liter of breath. The breathalyzer is a machine that is subject to malfunctions, improper calibrations and incorrect readings.  If you refuse to submit to the breath test, the police will read you the “implied consent” law which explains that failure to submit to the breathalyzer will subject you to a one year driver’s license
suspension (it is also important to note that if you have refused a breath test in the past, a second refusal is a misdemeanor and punishable by up to a year in the county jail).  At this point you
have a decision to make: take the test and possibly incriminate yourself or refuse and lose your driver’s license for a year.

When considering this decision, understand that if your breath test results in a breath alcohol level of .08 or higher your driver’s license will be suspended for 6 months and your defense attorney will have a significantly harder time arguing your innocence to a jury. Your best approach is to politely refuse to submit to the breathalyzer test. At this point, whether you refuse or your
breath alcohol level is .08 or higher, you will be arrested for DUI.  Depending on your criminal history you will be released or given a bond the next day.

The most important thing to remember if you are under investigation or have been
arrested for DUI is that you have the right against self-incrimination.  Do not help the police build a case against you.  Instead, remain quiet, keep still and give them as little evidence to you against you as possible.

If you are arrested for DUI, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.  If you or a loved one have been arrested for DUI or would like more information, please contact Winston Law, P.A. at (561) 670-9375 or susan@winstonlawpa.com

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