When you are pulled over by an officer for a suspicion of DUI there are many things you should consider. It is always wise to pull over safely and to be polite and respectful. You should also have your license, registration and proof of insurance ready. The police officer
will be observing all your actions and gestures closely, and difficulty in producing these documents could be considered a clue that the driver is under the influence.
Remember that an officer’s “probable cause” analysis is based upon the big picture. If the investigating officer detects clues that could suggest impairment, such as a distinct odor of alcohol emanating from one’s breath, bloodshot, watery or glassy eyes, slurred speech or apparent functional incapacity, the officer will ask you to step outside of the vehicle and to perform FSEs or Field Sobriety Exercises. The officer will especially be watching you exit your vehicle to see if you make smooth body movements, stumble, stagger or use your vehicle for support, which could all serve as a clue of impairment to take note of. It is key that you are careful in what you say. The officer may ask you if you have been drinking, and how you answer this question could possibly cost you all credibility with the officer. If you deny drinking, but an odor of alcohol emanating from your breath belies your assertion, then a jury will surely find out about it if the case goes to trial. While one has a fifth amendment right not to make incriminating statements, questions posed by police as part of their roadside investigation generally do not rise to the level of custodial interrogation necessary to trigger one’s privilege against self-incrimination. And while a Defendant had a right to remain silent in court during his trial, and never testify, his statements made to police pursuant to their investigation are not hearsay.
In deciding to perform the FSEs or not to can be very complicated. If you deny this request, very little evidence will be collected to obtain a conviction. On the other side of this, the officer will most likely arrest you and the prosecutor will likely argue that this is evidence that you are guilty. Moreover, the DMV will administratively suspend your license in the State of Florida for refusing to submit to field sobriety testing, for example, you would receive an automatic one year license suspension for the first refusal. This is separate from the suspension the criminal court will impose upon disposition if convicted, and begins to run from the date you are charged with DUI. If you agree to the FSEs you will have to listen extremely carefully to the officer’s instruction. If you fail to complete any instruction specifically how the officer requests, this will considered a decision clue of impairment.
FSEs are designed to test your divided attention skills. It is likely you will be asked to stand in positions which are either uncomfortable or difficult to maintain. You will also no doubt be nervous and eager to show your ability to complete the instructions. Do not begin any instruction or exercise until specifically told to do so. The officer is likely to pause his instruction that may lead you into starting the exercise before he is done instructing you. Remember that the entire interaction and exercises are filmed and everything you do and say can be referenced and used as evidence.
Choosing to submit to a Breathalyzer test is also a crucial choice. Under Florida law your license will be suspended upon being arrested for a DUI. 11 days following your arrest there will be a 30-day suspension where you will not be allowed to drive for any reason. If you refuse a Breathalyzer the suspension triples to 90 days. While not submitting is helpful to your defense in court, you should consider the suspension of 90 days, not to mention the year long suspension on a first refusal previously mentioned. The results are used as powerful evidence, refusing the Breathalyzer test will be used to show consciousness of one’s own guilt. However juries do not necessarily see the choice of refusal as guilt. Also the refusal is not as powerful as the Breathalyzer result of being over the legal limit. So, if you have been arrested for a DUI call the Law Offices of Christopher DeBari. An experienced Tampa DUI Lawyer can help you.
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