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Arrested for Driving While Under the Influence
Every year, there are approximately 1.5 million people arrested for some form of driving while under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or prescription medication. Of those 1.5 million arrests, many occur in the state of Florida. In particular, Pinellas County has a high rate of DUI arrests due to the proximity to St. Petersburg and Clearwater beaches.
It is best to avoid putting yourself in a scenario that would allow you to be arrested for a DUI. However, if you do get arrested, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to navigate the waters with you.
In Florida, a person is guilty of driving under the influence “if the person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle…” and is shown to have a blood alcohol content (“BAC”) of 0.08 or over if you are 21. If you are driving under the influence while younger than 21 years old, you only need to have a 0.02 BAC in order for the state to sustain a DUI conviction. There are other factors to consider that may aggravate the charges.
Finally, it is also good for you to know that, in the state of Florida, having a driver’s license gives implied your implied consent to submit to a breathalyzer test if you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI.
That being said, if you’re facing a DUI charge, there are multiple avenues you can pursue in an effort to get your DUI charge reduced, granted pretrial diversion, or even dismissed outright. First, you need to challenge the initial stop. Often times, there may be a problem with the validity of the stop and the police officers often rely on establishing probable cause after the stop is initiated.
If you are suspected of a DUI and are asked to take a field sobriety test, be aware that the police are not only looking for the physical signs of impairment, but how you respond to questions, your demeanor, ability to maintain eye contact, and other potential suggestions of impairment. Each test has a certain number of elements that have to be met for there to be a finding of impairment that would give rise to the police asking for a breath test.
If the results of the field sobriety tests are based on “close calls,” then these can potentially be challenged as improper findings when compared against dash cam or body camera footage. You are entitled to this documentation in discovery to use to build your defense. There may also be other opportunities to suppress evidence in your DUI proceeding, such as if you were not given Miranda warnings after your arrest.
If you have been charged with a DUI in the Tampa Bay region, please reach out to us for a consultation at (727) 933-0015. The attorneys at the Lopez Law Group are ready, willing and able to come to your defense.