What You Don’t Know, Could Cost You
New Year’s Eve is one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. Law enforcement knows this and will have extra officers on patrol stopping people for suspicion of Driving Under the Influence. Do not start off 2018 in jail by drinking and driving. Instead, use a designated driver or a rideshare program like UBER or Lyft. If stopped on suspicion of DUI, here are some tips to keep in mind:
First things First
#1 When pulled over, stop in a safe place. Remain in the vehicle. Take a deep breath and stay calm. A law enforcement officer is not permitted to pull you over unless you have committed a traffic infraction. This may include running a red light, running a stop sign, speeding, swerving, a tail light out, etc. Something minor like dark tints or loud music can be enough for a law enforcement officer to make a stop.
#2 Keep your hands on the steering wheel and in view of law enforcement. When an officer approaches, roll down the window. If it is nighttime, the officer will shine a flashlight in your face. It is important that you remain calm. Police will then request the usual license and registration. If you fumble for these, it could be considered a sign of impairment by the police.
Law enforcement is looking for signs of impairment such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and the smell of alcohol or drugs such as marijuana and will ask some questions to get you talking in order to assess whether your speech is slurred or breathe smells of alcohol.
If Law enforcement suspects DUI they will probably ask
- “Have you had anything to drink?”
- “Where are you coming from/going?”
Do You Need to Answer?
#3 Know the difference between cooperating and protecting yourself. Nerves can cause us to ramble-on or overshare – this can do more harm than good. Technically, you do not have to answer their questions. It is completely legal to remain silent and state that you wish to speak with a lawyer present. Be careful though, this could make the officer even more suspicious.
Field Sobriety Tests:
#4 Refuse field sobriety tests. These tests are designed to gather evidence AGAINST you! You have the right to refuse these tests and you should refuse them.
When was the last time you practiced standing on one leg with your other foot lifted forward? Or the last time you walked an imaginary line, heel to toe? What if you have a bad back or bad knees? Add to these factors, flashing bright lights, passing traffic, uneven pavement and it becomes a recipe for disaster. One misstep or one instance of losing your balance, even after completing 80% of the test without incident, is evidence against you.
If you find yourself at the point of field sobriety tests, chances are, you are already going to jail. So, simply do not give a police officer evidence to use against you in court.
To Blow or Not to Blow?
#5 Always refuse to blow! Why? The machine is unreliable.
Note: Florida driver’s licenses state that by having a license the driver consents to these tests. Therefore, if you refuse these tests it can result in a driver’s license suspension. You have 10-days from the date of arrest to challenge the suspension in an administrative hearing.
What to Remember for a DUI Stop
#6 Make sure you have an experienced DUI attorney on your side. You want someone who understands the system and knows how the DUI process is handled; someone who will fight for your rights if you have been wrongfully accused. Having an experienced attorney on your side can make a huge difference in the outcome of the case. If you have been wrongfully charged with DUI, contact Jennifer Meksraitis for a free consultation at (813) 600-9137 or via email.
*Keep this in mind when driving anywhere. A driver cannot be pulled over without a valid reason. Always keep the vehicle maintained and always abide by the rules of the road.