A traffic stop could be the first time you're going to have any contact with a police officer. A police officer can pull you over for any traffic violation, whether it's speeding, failing to use a turn signal, or failing to stay within the lines in the road. They can also stop you for having a broken taillight or having something hanging from your rearview mirror.
Once a police officer has a legitimate reason to pull you over, any evidence found can be used in court to convict you of a DUI. Even if you know that you're completely innocent at the time of a traffic stop, arguing with an officer will only make matters worse. If you are arrested and charged with DUI for any reason, it's important to understand that a police officer is not the judge or prosecutor in your case. With the right attorney on your side, your DUI charges can be fought and potentially dropped.
What will happen at a traffic stop if I'm suspected of driving drunk?
The first thing an officer may do is observe your behavior when asking for your driver's license and registration. If you appear nervous or frustrated in any way, an officer may become suspicious. This often leads to further probing.
An officer may ask where you are coming from and if you had anything to drink. No matter how innocent your answer may seem, anything you tell a police officer can lead to even further probing and be used against you.
The best thing to do when questioned during a traffic stop is to simply and politely invoke your right to remain silent.
Even if you're completely sober, an officer may claim to smell alcohol on your breath or say that you have bloodshot eyes. That's fine. An officer's assumptions do not hold up in court without sufficient evidence.
What if police ask to search my car?
Another thing that could happen during a traffic stop is that you may be ordered to get out of your car. The police are legally allowed to do this. That's why it is important to follow orders, even if you think it's unnecessary.
If an officer asks to search your car, you can simply refuse a search. The police are not allowed to search your car without a warrant. They can, however, if there is visible evidence that you have committed a crime. This could mean that they see an illegal weapon or illegal drugs that are in plain sight.
What should I do if a police officer asks me to perform a roadside test?
If you are already out of your car, an officer may ask you to perform a field sobriety exercise. This often includes standing on one foot for a certain amount of time, walking in a straight line, or following a small object with your eyes.
Police officers are trained in observing your coordination and behavior during a field sobriety exercise. Yet, these exercises barely offer any real evidence that can be used in court. The truth is, there are many people who have a hard time performing these exercises, even on their best days. Fortunately, you are not legally required to perform a field sobriety exercise.
Roadside breath tests are a different story. You are required to take a breath test under Florida's implied consent law. Refusing to do so could result in a one-year driver's license suspension and possible jail time. The good news is, breath tests are not always accurate. Therefore, they can be disputed in court with the right legal representation.
What should I do if I'm arrested and charged with DUI?
If you are arrested and charged with a DUI, it's important to understand that you are not out of options. If you remained silent and followed the officer's orders, your next course of action should be to speak to an experienced Clay County DUI defense attorney.
A first DUI conviction in Florida could mean up to six months of incarceration and a fine between $500 - $1,000. In addition, you could lose your right to drive and may have a difficult time with employment.
Aguilar & Sieron, P.A. are former prosecutors and know how the system works. Having one of our attorneys on your side could mean a difference between freedom and the long-term impact of a DUI charge.
Contact our law firm to learn how we can help you fight your DUI charge.