What to do if: you are stopped in Florida for a traffic violation, and you had a drink at dinner?
First of all, remain calm. It is not illegal to drink and drive. It is, however, illegal to operate a vehicle while your “faculties are impaired by alcohol.” Meaning, if your ability to drive is affected by the alcohol you had, a DUI arrest may be in your future. In Florida, the legal drinking limit is .08 for anyone over the age of 21. If you are underage, you can be charged with a DUI even if your blood alcohol level is .01 because you are not supposed to be drinking altogether.
Assuming, an officer had cause to pull you over; there are certain things you can do to minimize your chances of getting a DUI. Have your paperwork where you can quickly get it; fumbling can be a sign of inebriation. Be polite to the officer, but do not feel the need to make small talk. Everyone has heard about the Miranda warning, and most think that their statements cannot be used against them at trial. Miranda warnings only apply after you have the arrest. Assume that everything you say will be used against you, so try to say as least as possible. An officer will usually ask where you are coming from and where you are going, in an attempt to get you to admit that you are coming from a bar. If you lie, and it is evident, based on your driving directions, you are arming them with evidence against you.
Once an officer perform a traffic stop, he can ask you questions relating to the stop. If you were stopped because you were speeding, he can ask you if you know how fast you were going. You do not have to admit that you were speeding; you do not need to do their job for them. Answer truthfully, whether you knew or didn’t know by saying “yes” or “no” but do not volunteer how fast you were going or any additional information. If an officer asks you if you know why you were stopped – simply say “no.” It is a typical technique to try to get you to admit your wrongdoing. As a former prosecutor, I have seen many people volunteer information against themselves. An answer such as, “yes, I think I was speeding a little” will almost always end with at least a speeding ticket. While, “no officer, I don’t” – will give your attorney more wiggle room if you are eventually arrested for DUI.
If you are stopped because you were weaving, the officer will also inquire if you are feeling ok. Advise that you are okay, and ask why they would think you would not be? If the office explains that you were stopped because you were “weaving,” be prepared to have a valid explanation for your driving pattern.
It is common for an officer to ask you to step out of your car so they can see if you will stumble, or sway. You have the right to refuse and politely explain that you prefer to remain in your vehicle at this time.
For a traffic stop to end and for an officer to transition it to an “investigative stop” for a DUI, an officer needs 3 indicators of impaired driving. Was your voice slurred? Was there an odor of alcohol on your breath? Were your eyes glassy? Did you fumble with your documents? Did you admit you had a drink or were at a bar?
If an officer can answer 3 of these things in the positive, he will ask you to step out of the car to perform FSE’s (Field Sobriety Exercises); at this time, you should exit the vehicle. If the officer did not observe enough evidence, the traffic stop would end by the officer either giving you a ticket, warning, or letting you go.
If you were arrested for a DUI and want to speak to an experienced Orlando Area Criminal Defense Attorney, call us today at 1-855-554-6534 today to schedule a FREE consultation.