Around holidays such as the upcoming Fourth of July, law enforcement officials put increased emphasis on keeping roadways safe by cracking down on drivers operating their vehicles while impaired by alcohol.
Although it is not specifically against the law to drink and drive, it is illegal to drive while impaired by alcohol. Impairment means that normal activities such as walking, talking, and of course, driving has been affected by alcohol.
One unfortunate side effect of this effort is that more unimpaired drivers are stopped for minor traffic violations. While many adults are able to responsibly consume a glass of wine with dinner or a beer at the baseball game without causing impairment or raising their blood alcohol level above the 0.08 threshold, this can get into a gray area during a traffic stop.
Here are some things you should know if you get pulled over for suspicion of impaired driving:
Tips on How to Avoid a DUI
Be polite and respectful
It’s likely that the stop is being recorded. Be prepared with your driver’s license and vehicle registration and keep your hands on the steering wheel. Remember you’re being recorded. Most police cars have dash cams and most officers wear body cams as well. Keep conversation to a minimum and never argue or become belligerent. Avoid any emotional outbursts.
Don’t Incriminate Yourself
Depending on the reason for the stop, the officer is likely looking for signs of impairment so they have probable cause to make an arrest for DUI. Don’t incriminate yourself. Even if you had a drink but do not feel you’re impaired, now is not the time to incite that debate.
You can respectfully refuse field sobriety tests. If an officer has reason to believe a driver has been drinking, they can order the driver from the car to perform field sobriety tests such as the most common: HGN (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus; commonly known as the eye test) One Leg Stand (OLS) and Walk and Turn (WAT). Although these tests are said to determine if you are safe to drive, they can also be used to provide evidence for a DUI arrest and possibly used further for a conviction. Advise the officer that you are not comfortable performing said tests. If you are ordered from your car, you must comply, but respectfully ask first if you are under arrest.
Know Your Rights
Under Florida’s “implied consent” law, you have implicitly “consented” to take a breath, blood, or urine test as a privilege of operating a motor vehicle. However, this does not mean you should actually consent when asked for a breath, blood or urine sample at a hospital or Breath Alcohol Testing Facility. Generally, it is best to REFUSE, even though the known consequence is the suspension of your driver’s license for one year. Do not give the government any evidence that can be used against you in the future.
It’s important to know your rights if you are pulled over after drinking. Obviously the best case scenario is that the police will let you go; however, if you are arrested, your first call should be to Attorney Lourdes Casanova at Casanova Law. Attorney Casanova will negotiate with prosecutors for reduction or dismissal of the DUI charge, and she is prepared to fight for you when the government won’t negotiate.
If you find yourself in this situation in Lake Worth, West Palm Beach, Stuart, or anywhere in South Florida, don’t hesitate; call 561-236-5340 today or fill out our online form at www.casanovalawpa.com. Our legal experts can evaluate your situation and plan the best strategy.