Top 5 Tips If You’re Pulled Over For DUI
For starters to understand the elements the State must prove, the State can prove DUI in two ways (assuming it can also prove you were driving or actual physical control of a vehicle):
1. That you were under the influence of alcohol to the extent that your normal faculties were impaired
2. You had a Blood/Breath alcohol level of .08 or more grams of alcohol per [100 milliliters of blood] [210 liters of breath].
The State is only required to prove one of the above elements, not both.
With that, let’s look at the Top 5 Tips If You're Pulled Over For DUI:
1. Pull over safely and slowly
Remember, if an officer has decided to make the decision to pull you over for DUI, then he/she has probably observed evidence of “bad” driving. This is usually something like you were swerving out of your lane or maybe you drove past the light bar at the stoplight. Either way, make certain to try and pull over safely by not stopping abruptly or making other erratic movements.
2. Be Kind and Polite
This should be obvious—but don’t be rude or discourteous to law enforcement. First and foremost, if you are being rude, the officer is more likely to want to see you get convicted and might even tell the State Attorney’s Office he/she does not agree with a lighter sentence. This could potentially hurt you getting a better sentence or a reduction in the charge, like a reduction to Reckless Driving for example. Second, if you come off rude, it can be viewed as you being belligerent, which is common for people under the influence of alcohol. Most Sarasota DUI officers have dash cams that have audio. This video will likely be played before a jury; you don’t want them seeing you being rude to law enforcement as it can make a conviction more likely.
3. The less you talk the better
If an officer asks you how much you had to drink tonight, chances are you are going to be arrested anyway. You can simply state something like, “I’m sorry, officer, I am going to decline to answer that question.” In fact, any question the officer asks you that could be incriminating (meaning would lead you to confess or admit to something criminal or help a criminal case against you) should be politely declined. Most important, the less you talk the better. It is easy to ramble when you’re nervous because of the flashing lights, police present, and unsure about what is going to happen next. Because you will probably be on audio/video dash cam, it will pick up what you say. If you have any slurring in your speech, the officer will note this and point this out to a jury.
4. Refuse the Field Sobriety Exercises
These “exercises” simply are used to gather more evidence against you. It is also very subjective as the officer determines whether you passed or failed these exercises. However, it is important to note the prosecution will argue in trial to the jury that you refused these exercises because of “consciousness of guilt.” These exercises can be very tough and you don’t want to fall down trying to do one; it can make you look drunk. Further, officers get more than you “failing” these exercises, because the “exercises” typically incorporate some form of speech by making you count or say the alphabet. Again, if you have slurred speech it will be noted.
5. Refuse the Breathalyzer
This one is often debated. But, in my opinion, it simply more evidence the officers are trying to gather against you. Further, once you take the test from the machine it can provide a BAL (Blood Alcohol Level) that the prosecutor can use to determine how to charge you. If you’re over .15 BAL, then that’s an enhanced charged with statutory conditions that neither the judge nor prosecutor can amend. Just like the above, the prosecution may be allowed to argue “consciousness of guilt” for refusing to take the Breathalyzer test to a jury. Some argue that if you only had one or two drinks you should take the test. This is partly because if you have a BAL of .05 or less in Florida, it is legally presumed that you were not under the influence of alcohol to the extent your normal faculties were impaired. However, this presumption can be overcome with other evidence from the prosecution that your normal faculties were impaired, which is why the above tips are important.