The best way to avoid a DUI charge in Florida is never to drink and drive. Not only does it place you in legal jeopardy, but it also creates a dangerous situation for you and everyone else on the road.
However, sometimes poor judgment or other circumstances lead to getting behind the wheel after having a couple of drinks. If you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI, it’s crucial to know how to react.
Steps to take after you see the flashing lights
Being stopped by a police officer is unnerving regardless of the situation. If you’ve been drinking, it can be even more frightening. But how you react is vitally important to your predicament. Once an officer signals you to stop, take these actions:
- Pull over: As quickly and safely as possible, pull off to the side of the road, stay in your vehicle and turn off the engine. Place your hands on the steering wheel to show the officer you are no threat.
- Be polite: Being combative or disrespectful to an officer is one of the worst things you can do. Politely respond to their requests and try to remain calm.
- Don’t incriminate yourself: If the officer asks whether you’ve been drinking, (politely) invoke your Fifth Amendment rights. You don’t have to tell them if you’ve been drinking, where you’ve been or who you were with.
- Avoid the urge to be candid: Sharing your thoughts is not the best policy, especially if you are under suspicion for a DUI. If you’ve only had one drink, don’t admit that to an officer. Chances are he or she won’t believe you anyway.
- Call a lawyer: If the officer believes you were drinking, they will ask you to take field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer, and you will likely be arrested. Stay calm, request an attorney and don’t talk to anyone until your lawyer is present.
Detail every interaction with police
Working with an experienced defense attorney is the best way to avoid a DUI or have charges and penalties reduced. As soon as possible, document everything you can remember about the arrest, including:
- The time between your last drink and when you were stopped
- Where you were when police stopped you
- How the officer treated you
- How you responded to their requests
- Whether the officer informed you of your Miranda rights
- How long after you stopped drinking that sobriety and breath tests were performed, as well as a later chemical test
Based on your notes and the officer’s actions, a knowledgeable lawyer – especially one who used to prosecute these cases – knows how to challenge evidence, and uncover misconduct or investigative errors. Your lawyer will aggressively defend you and seek to have the case dropped or minimize penalties and other potentially devastating personal and financial consequences.