If you or one of your friends gets pulled over for a DUI, it is important to know your rights and understand the process. DUI charges are a criminal offense in Florida and in the worst case you could be sentenced as a criminal defendant. Here are some helpful tips about how to act correctly and how to minimize the consequences.
Pull Over Quickly and Stay In Your Car
When you are pulled over, move to the side of the road as quickly and safely as possible. Get your license, registration, and insurance ready to show. The officers are trained to be cautious and they always approach the car from behind so they have a clear view of the driver. It is important that you don’t make any sudden movements and that you keep your hands on the wheel.
Note that the police officer is paying attention to everything you do. Everything you say or do can be put in the police report and used as an evidence in court.
Be Polite to Law Enforcement
Acting out against law enforcement is the last thing you should ever do. If you are behaving badly, the office has more reasons to get you convicted or getting charge of resisting the officer. No matter how frustrated or scared you might feel, using force or be disobeying is never wise and won’t help your case at all. You are far less likely to be arrested if you treat the officer respectfully.
You have the right to remain silent
Even if you do get arrested, stay calm. Be respectful to the police officers and follow the directions, but also remember that you do have the right to remain silent about anything that can incriminate you in the future. The nervousness of getting pulled over often drives people to incriminate themselves more likely than they usually would.
Also, saying that you had one or two beers is not incriminating. Be co-operative but you don’t have share any unrelevant information about your evening or who did you spend it with. When answering any questions, be honest. Lying is never a good idea – it can be used against you in court.
Consider taking a field sobriety test
Even if you blew under the legal limit, you might still have to perform a field sobriety test (FST). In Florida, the police can request you to do a field sobriety test based on their reasonable belief that you are impaired.
There many types of field sobriety tests – including heel-to-toe, finger-to-nose, alphabet recitation, modified position of attention etc. The police are trying to gather additional evidence but most officers have already made up their minds to make an arrest when they conduct the FSTs. Remember that you are not legally required to take any FSTs.
Take a chemical test at the police station
Roadside breathalyzers are unreliable and the police officer can influence the results. If you are arrested for a DUI, Florida law requires you to take a breath, blood or urine test. Remember that you are obligated by law to take these chemical tests at the police station.
Contact a lawyer
If a police officer stops you, remember that you are not required to answer potentially incriminating questions and you can always politely reply that you would like to speak with an attorney before answering any questions. Consulting an experienced DUI defense lawyer is highly recommended since there are many legal and technical arguments you need to understand.
If you get arrested, take as many notes as possible. With this information and details, your lawyer will have a better change of fighting for your rights. Simply write down everything that you can remember about the night, even if it doesn’t seem relevant to you. Many things the arresting officer did or failed to do can be useful for your lawyer to fight your charges and get them reduced or dropped.