Stopped For a DUI in Florida: What Should You Do?A DUI is a very serious offense. In the state of Florida, offenders are usually tagged with hefty fines ranging from $500 to $5000, license suspension from 180 days to 10 years, and jail time ranging from six months up to one year. With extensive driver education and safety regulations in place, most drivers are very careful about their driving to ensure pedestrian and driver safety. However, problems can happen. On an empty stomach, even a single drink can elevate your blood alcohol level substantially and you may have the bad luck to be pulled over by a police officer. In That Case, What Should You Do?
- Before you even get pulled over, you are on video. Most police departments have dashboard cameras and these cameras will record every single thing you say or do.
- Some police officers also have uniform microphones to record one-on-one interactions. If you find the police officer being especially polite and nice, you should do the same. Pull over as soon as you have been signaled, be polite, and try not to slur your speech.
- The police officer may ask you, “Do you know why you have been pulled over?” You should answer, “No officer, I believe that I was following all traffic laws and speed limits.” Do not argue and just politely let the officer know that you are fine, and you are driving carefully.
- You can also choose to refuse to answer the police officer but this is not without its complications.
- Be prepared to hand over your driver license and registration as soon as you are pulled over. Most officers take note of your coordination as you reach for these documents and fumbling is a clear sign that you are inebriated.
- The officer is also likely to ask you to perform Field Sobriety Exercises or FSEs. You do have the right to refuse these tests but this refusal has pros and cons. If you refuse the FSE, the prosecution has very little evidence against you but the officer can arrest you on the spot. If you do agree to the FSE, make sure you listen carefully to instructions. The most common test is walking heel-to-toe. You are to stand in this position while listening to the officer. This position is uncomfortable and you may want to change your posture. If you change your position, the officer may automatically consider this as a ‘fail’ or a ‘difficulty in maintaining balance.’ To prevent this, do not start any exercise until you have been told to do so verbally.
- You can refuse to take a breathalyzer as well. In fact, four out of ten drivers in Florida refuse to take breathalyzers. However, this is not without its issues. If you refuse the breathalyzer, the prosecution has no evidence and most juries are not prejudiced towards drivers that do not take breathalyzer tests. However, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will suspend your license in case of a DUI arrest. There is a 30-day suspension, but this will extend to a 90-day suspension in case you refuse a breathalyzer.