The DUI Traffic Stop
What to Do if You are Stopped for DUI
If you read newspapers or watch the nightly news you know that DUI arrests, and Miami DUI arrests are well-publicized.
Celebrities like Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie, Lindsay Lohan, Mel Gibson, Donte Stallworth and Carmelo Anthony have either been arrested, going to rehab, or going to jail because of DUI convictions.
With public pressure and intense legislation aimed at DUI, the possibility of beating a Miami DUI charge may seem remote. If you are concerned about being pulled over and charged with a DUI, or have already been charged, a conviction does not have to be in your future.
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You can take steps to prevent an arrest and to lessen the chances of losing your DUI case if you are arrested.
Get a Designated Driver
Before you even go out for a drink get a designated driver or have the phone number to a local cab company on your cell phone. Bars and restaurants will always call a cab for you. Being proactive and using your head can save lives as well as save you money in the long run.
Have Your Driving Documents Readily Available
If you drink and then choose to drive, it is very important to have your driving documents (driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance) ready and accessible. One sign of intoxication commonly reported by police is that the defendant fumbled through his wallet or else had trouble finding his documentation. This can be eliminated if you just keep your documents in one place at all times, with no other clutter to confuse you or get in the way. The best place to keep these documents is in your wallet behind your license.
Do Not Incriminate Yourself
It's a natural reaction to try and talk your way out of a police stop, whether it is a traffic ticket or a potential arrest. But, one of the least helpful things to do is give the officer evidence which could be used against you. It is a good idea to always be courteous, but don't be over-eager to help the police do their job. All that is required of any citizen is to provide a correct name if asked, and to provide all driving documentation.
No other communication with the police officer is required by law. If the officer asks you if you know why you were pulled over, you need not respond. In fact, you can just say “No.” or shrug your shoulders and wait for the officer to run your driver license.
Another normal, yet unhelpful reaction is to minimize the amount that you may have had to drink while admitting that you had anything to drink, no matter how small the amount. An admission that you had been drinking, even "a couple" can and will be used against you in numerous ways. First, it can give the officer cause to ask you to do roadside sobriety exercises and/or to arrest you if any other sign of intoxication is present and observed. This admission will also be used against you in court.
Ask to speak with a Miami DUI Attorney. You don't have the right to consult with an attorney before taking the breath test, but asking for a lawyer should cut off any further questioning.
The following tips also detail ways in which not to incriminate yourself. However, given their importance they deserve their own headings.
Don't Let Police Use Field Sobriety Tests Against You
There are many tests and options an officer has to prove reasonable cause to arrest you for DUI. Not only can they utilize chemical tests, such as the breath and blood test, but they can also use observation. They may observe you weaving through lanes, driving erratically, or speeding down the wrong side of the road, all common indicators of drunk driving. However, they need more than just observation to arrest you after they have pulled you over.
An officer can utilize roadside sobriety tests or exercises to get further evidence against you. An officer can examine your physical and mental abilities and determine if there is serious impairment. These means poor performance could lead to an arrest and give the prosecution fuel in the courtroom. However, most officers and prosecutors fail to admit that these tests can be extremely challenging for individuals that are not impaired at all. That means a sober driver could fail the tests. The tests are essentially designed for failure and are unnatural. Not many people practice walking heel-to-toe or standing one leg and saying the alphabet backwards.
While officers use a variety of tests, only three have been proven to give some credible results, and even those are challengeable in court. I am prepared to challenge any field sobriety tests evidence that may be used against you and can demonstrate the lack of credibility of these exercises.
Don't Take That Breath Test (Probably)
Roll the dice and hope that you didn't have enough to put you over .08? If you are thinking twice about the test, you probably should not take it. Just know that a refusal will have some penalties. Every state has "Implied Consent" laws, meaning that every licensed driver agrees to undergo chemical testing if asked by a police officer. In Florida, a refusal will result in a twelve (12) month suspension of driving privileges for a first refusal and eighteen (18) months for a second refusal from a prior DUI arrest. We can fight this suspension with DHSMV.
Be very aware, however, that in addition to the longer suspension period, a second refusal to submit to a breath, blood or urine test can be charged as a criminal traffic misdemeanor. Also know that the prosecutors can argue that your refusal reflects consciousness of guilt.
Regardless of your situation, you can count on Jonathan Blecher, P.A. to provide dedicated defense and counsel. If you have more questions regarding your DUI traffic stop, be sure to contact my firm today!
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