Police officers may pull over drivers when the officers suspect them of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol. However, officers may not arrest drivers unless the officers have probable cause to believe that they have committed a DUI. Most people do not fully understand the standards of proof needed for a DUI arrest or the constitutional rights afforded to them during a police stop. The Jacksonville DUI attorneys at Ellis and Bryant skillfully protect your interests at all stages of the proceedings. We are dedicated advocates who defend persons charged with any criminal offense arising from a DUI arrest.Arrest for DUI in Florida
The Florida Uniform Traffic Control Law prohibits a person from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Persons commit a DUI offense when driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher or a per se amount of drugs in their system. In some cases, the police may charge drivers for a DUI even though they are under the legal limit, such as when drivers are affected to the extent that the alcoholic beverage or chemical substance has impaired their normal faculties. Typically, a DUI is charged after a person is pulled over while driving and arrested by law enforcement.
The police are not allowed to stop drivers arbitrarily. A traffic stop may be conducted only when a law enforcement officer reasonably suspects illegal activity. In a Jacksonville DUI case, an officer with reasonable suspicion that a driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs may pull over the driver. For example, drifting and swerving between lanes, moving at an inconsistent rate of speed, and otherwise driving erratically may be enough to provide reasonable suspicion of drunk driving. In some cases, a police officer will initially stop a driver for a broken taillight or other traffic violation. After interacting with the driver, the officer may then suspect that the driver is intoxicated.
In order to make a DUI arrest, the police officer must have probable cause to believe that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Probable cause is a higher standard than the reasonable suspicion required to pull over a driver. During a traffic stop, the officer may observe the driver for signs of intoxication, such as bloodshot eyes, the smell of alcohol or marijuana, lack of coordination, or slurred speech. The officer may ask the driver to take field sobriety tests. If the police officer concludes cause exists to request a breath test, the driver must comply or face consequences for refusal. The officer’s observations and breath test results may provide probable cause to arrest the driver for DUI.Challenging a DUI Arrest
A DUI lawyer can investigate the circumstances surrounding a traffic stop and arrest to determine whether grounds for dismissal exist. Generally, evidence that the police obtained illegally or unconstitutionally may not be used by the state to convict an individual of a DUI or another crime. When Florida courts find that an officer unconstitutionally conducted a traffic stop without reasonable suspicion or made a DUI arrest without probable cause, they may bar evidence collected at the stop or arrest from being used at trial. Such evidence may include BAC test results, any drugs or open alcohol containers found in the car, field sobriety tests, or other evidence to support a DUI conviction. The lack of admissible evidence may then lead to dismissal of the charges.Seek Advice from a Skilled Lawyer After a DUI Arrest
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Florida, you should retain legal counsel to fully understand and protect your legal rights. At Ellis and Bryant, our attorneys are prepared to defend persons against criminal charges including driving under the influence and drugged driving. We represent individuals located in Jacksonville Beach, Orange Park, Middleburg, and throughout the counties of Clay and Duval. To request a free initial consultation, call us at (904) 551-4120 or contact us online.