As a leading DUI Lawyer in Jacksonville, my experience has led me to live by the motto; Defending, Not Judging. This  belief welcomes all clients who’ve found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Unfortunately, police officers judge you from the second they observe you, especially if you are suspected of driving under the influence.

Here are my five good DUI questions and answers that will help you navigate the rough waters of getting arrested for DUI:

Q1. What does law enforcement look for when searching for drunk drivers?

A1. The following is a list of behaviors that the police look for while they’re observing a driver they suspect of DUI. The list is based upon research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Administration:

  • Turning With a Wide Radius
  • Straddling Center of Lane Marker
  • Almost Striking Object or Vehicle
  • Weaving or Failure to Maintain a Single Lane
  • Swerving
  • Speed More Than 10 mph Below Limit
  • Stopping Without Cause in Traffic Lane
  • Following Too Closely
  • Driving into Opposing or Crossing Traffic
  • Slow Response to Traffic Signals
  • Stopping Inappropriately
  • Accelerating or Decelerating Rapidly
  • Headlights Off

Speeding is not a symptom of DUI; because of quicker judgment and reflexes, it may indicate sobriety. However, it is a reason to stop you.

Q2.If I’m stopped by a police officer and he asks me if I’ve been drinking, what should I say?

A2. You are not required to answer potentially incriminating questions. A polite “I would like to speak with an attorney before I answer any questions” is a good reply. Be prepared for the police to tell you that you do not have a right to an attorney – they’re wrong. Just politely tell them that you will remain silent (another right) unless your attorney is present. They will probably arrest you but at least you have not given them the noose to hang a DUI on you.

Any admission to drinking will be used against you by the State of Florida to the fullest.

Q3. Do I have a right to an attorney when I’m stopped by an officer and asked to take a field sobriety test?

A3. In Florida, there is no right to speak to an attorney until after you have submitted to blood or breath testing at the station (or have refused to do so). This is because the Government finds it difficult to prove a case when they have no evidence. The Government’s solution is to warp your RIGHT to counsel until after YOU HAVE GIVEN THEM the evidence they need to convict you (violating another of your RIGHTS, not to be made a witness against yourself). However, they cannot force you to talk or take the breath test (if there are injuries they may be able to draw your blood without your consent).

Refusing to take the breath test a second time is a misdemeanor offense in Florida.

Q4. What should I do if I’m asked to take field sobriety tests?

A4. There are a wide range of Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs), including heel-to-toe, finger-to-nose, one-leg stand, horizontal gaze nystagmus, alphabet recitation, modified position of attention (Rhomberg), fingers-to-thumb, hand pat, etc. Most officers will use a set battery of three to five such tests. These tests are “designed” to determine if your normal faculties are impaired, however nothing they ask you to do relates to a normal faculty.

Similar to the breath or blood test, where refusal to submit may have serious consequences, a refusal to submit to field sobriety testing (FST) will be allowed into court in an attempt to show consciousness of guilt.

Should you take them? The reality is that officers have usually made up their minds to arrest when they ask you to submit to the FSTs; the tests are simply additional evidence which the suspect inevitably “fails” (remember that the officer giving the FSTs is also the grader!). Thus, in most cases a polite refusal may be appropriate.

Refusing can result in a longer administrative license suspension.

Q5. Should I agree to take a breath test? What happens if I don’t?

A5. There are four adverse consequences to refusing to submit to a breath or blood test (or urine if neither are available or if drugs are suspected):

For first time offenders, your driver’s license will be suspended for 12 months rather than six months. The hardship period (when you are not eligible for a restricted license) jumps from 30 days to 90 days.

A second refusal, if alleged in the complaint, can be charged as a separate misdemeanor offense.

The fact of refusing can be introduced into evidence at trial as evidence of “consciousness of guilt.” Of course, the defense is free to offer other reasons for the refusal, such as fear of needles or inability to blow into the machine hard enough.

Thus, the decision is one of weighing the likelihood of an incriminating breath-alcohol result against the consequences of refusing.