Florida and all states have DUI laws to stop drivers from getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after a few glasses of wine, beer, or liquor. The limit in Florida, sometimes (mistakenly) referred to as "legal limit," is .08%. The best advice an attorney can give is don't drink and drive. Imagine how many cab/UBER rides you can pay for with the money you'd spend on a DUI case.
You've left the party thinking you're okay to drive. Then the flashing lights. How to handle the DUI stop?
1) Stay in your car and if you have your seat belt on, leave it on. Stay still do not go looking for anything right now. Best course is to put your hands on the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 positions.
2) Provide documents. The officer will ask for your Florida driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. How easily you find these items will be noted on the officer's report. If you fumble around for them, it will look like you've had too much to drink.
3) Politely decline to answer questions. Usually, the officer will ask you a few questions about what you've had to drink and where have you been. Your best response is: "I can only answer your questions on the advice of my attorney." You don't have to call an attorney right then. The statement effectively stops any questioning of you by invoking your constitutional rights. Later after arrest when the officer reads Miranda rights to you, the answer should be the same. You have a right to remain silent. Use it!
4) Politely refuse to take field sobriety exercises (FSEs). FSEs for DUI are: HGN, the one where the officer asks you to follow a light with your eyes, walk and turn and the one leg stand. When you do FSEs, you are giving evidence that will be used against you. There is no law requiring you to do the tests. Some officers will tell you they will take you to jail if you don't do the tests. Don't do them. The officer is taking you to jail no matter what. This is the normal time of the DUI arrest.
5) Do Not Resist Arrest. Regardless of your thoughts about your sobriety, there is no need to be abusive, belligerent, argumentative or otherwise difficult with the officer. In fact, you subject yourself to further criminal charges for resisting arrest if your actions go too far. No good will come out of displaying aggressive behavior towards the police. So, your attitude towards the officer must be polite. As discussed above, request to speak to an attorney. Fight the DUI later with your lawyer. Don’t fight the police!
6) Do not agree/consent to a search of your vehicle. The officer will search the passenger compartment of the vehicle “incident to the DUI arrest.” If the officer has to ask you to agree, it's a red flag. Just say no. If an officer has enough reason to get a search warrant, he or she will. If not, then why search? Usually, the question will come at you like: You don't mind if I look in your trunk, do you? You don't have a problem with my looking in your car? I'm just going to take a quick look inside, okay? Say no--politely, but firmly--and don't explain. And hope your “no” makes it into the report.
7) Cooperate, cooperate, cooperate. Cooperation means having a good attitude and being polite. It doesn't mean answering questions or doing field tests or talking. Your attitude, appearance and words all become part of the officer's report. The officer will twist everything he can to indicate your level of intoxication. This is not the time to crack jokes, cry, apologize or confess.
8) Do you take a breath test if one is offered? When your driver's license was issued, you agreed to take a breath test if you were ever requested to after your arrest. It's called the Implied Consent Law and even if you don't remember agreeing, you did. If a first offender and you refuse to take the breath test, your license will be suspended for one year with 90 days without any sort of license, even if you are not convicted of DUI. If a first offender and you take the breath test and the reading is less than .08%, your license will not be suspended but the officer will likely request a urine sample. If a first offender and you take the breath test and the reading is greater than .08%, your license will be suspended for 6 months with 30 days without any sort of license, even if you are not convicted of DUI. Whatever other consequences you might face for refusing the breath test, they are always more palatable than a DUI conviction, which is more likely with a breath reading as evidence.
Bonus 9) As soon as you are released from the jail, read my article, “5 STEPS TO TAKE AFTER YOUR DUI ARREST.”
Do you really need to take a cab/UBER after only one drink? Generally, very generally speaking, your blood alcohol level rises about .025% for each drink you have. The actual percent is based on your what you drank, weight and many other factors. Your body eliminates alcohol slowly over time. There are relatively inexpensive devices, personal breath testing devices, that you can purchase to test your alcohol level. Remember, the state attorney doesn't have to prove you had a .08%, you are guilty if your ability to drive is impaired to the slightest degree.
The safest bet is to always drive sober. When in doubt, call a cab/UBER!
Murphy's Law Offices, PA
5575 US Hwy 1
Rockledge, FL 32955