Among the worst issues drivers in South Florida can face is a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge. A DUI conviction carries serious penalties, including expensive fines and potential jail time. However, motorists may not be aware of the choices they have after being stopped on suspicion of drunk driving.
Your Choices After Being Pulled Over on Suspicion of Driving Under the Influence
If you are stopped on suspicion of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, remain as calm as possible. The officer will most likely attempt to administer a breathalyzer test. At this point, it’s up to you whether or not you agree to have the test performed.
Here’s a look at what can happen in both scenarios:
You Agree to the Breathalyzer Test
If you agree to a breathalyzer test, you run the risk of having your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level register at or above .08%, which is the legal limit in Florida. If this happens, you’ll likely be arrested and be charged with DUI.
At this point, you should obtain a criminal defense attorney immediately. Breathalyzer tests can — and often do — malfunction. Your lawyer will investigate the incident and ensure the breathalyzer device was properly calibrated, as well as conduct other evidence-seeking protocols.
You Refuse the Breathalyzer Test
In Florida, if you refuse a breathalyzer test, your license will be suspended for a year (if this is your first DUI charge). In the eyes of some courts, refusing to take the test comes off as a sign of guilt. However, if the officer that stopped you did not have reasonable suspicion to believe you were intoxicated, you may be able to avoid the mandatory license suspension.
Proving the officer did not have reasonable grounds to accuse you of intoxicated driving is extremely difficult, but not impossible. An attorney who focuses on representing motorists accused of DUI in Florida will know exactly what to do, such as reviewing footage from traffic light cameras to determine if you were driving erratically or if you passed a field sobriety test and were still being accused of inebriation.
Fighting DUI Charges With a Criminal Defense Attorney
Even if you are charged with Driving Under the Influence in South Florida, an experienced criminal defense lawyer, like Michael D. Weinstein, PA, can fight your case — especially if this is your first offense. In lieu of a DUI conviction, your attorney may be able to reduce your charges to a lesser offense, such as reckless driving.
If a reduced sentence is secured, your fines may be reduced and instead of jail time, you may be ordered to perform community service and/or enroll in a driver’s safety course or alcohol education program. Moreover, you’ll be able to expunge the lesser offense, unlike a DUI conviction, which cannot be removed from your record.