Florida has some of the harshest anti-DUI laws in the country. And in combination with Florida’s law prohibiting any DUI conviction from being expunged from the public record, many drivers think there’s no way to win a DUI case in Florida once you’re charged.
In this blog post, the DUI defense lawyers at Tampa’s Stechschulte Nell Law Firm want you to realize that many truths people “think they know” about Florida DUI are just myths. Experienced DUI defense lawyers are much more successful in winning DUI cases than you might realize. Don’t believe in the mythology of DUI. Get the facts from a skilled, DUI defense lawyer who specializes in attacking the prosecution’s evidence and preventing unnecessary DUI convictions.
Myth # 1 — You Can’t Be Convicted of DUI If You Don’t Take the Breathalyzer (WRONG)
Florida’s laws include two ways for you to be convicted of DUI:
- be in physical control of a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, or
- be in physical control while under the influence of alcohol or another chemical to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired.
Even without the results of a breath, blood, or urine test, prosecutors may present enough observational evidence from the police or other witnesses that you were impaired by some substance. Normal faculties are things like speech, balance, understanding, reaction time, or standing, among others. Skilled DUI defense lawyers often have success with “observation” cases, but no test is required to convict someone of DUI in Florida.
Myth # 2 — If You Blow 0.08 or Higher, You Will Be Convicted (WRONG)
Blowing a 0.08 or higher on an alcohol breathalyzer machine at a police station means you will be charged with DUI. But the prosecution must present a lot of reliable, admissible, credible evidence about all the events that preceded the breath test before the test results are even admitted into evidence in a courtroom. Experienced DUI defense attorneys specialize in challenging that preliminary evidence, so much so that many prosecutors choose to amend the DUI charge to a lesser offense, like Reckless Driving, rather than take a chance on losing their case entirely when a DUI defense lawyer has a good argument.
Myth # 3 — You Must Agree to Do Field Sobriety Tests If the Police Ask You (WRONG)
Roadside field sobriety tests, like walking a line heel-to-toe and turning around in a specific manner, or standing with one leg raised while you count to ten, were developed by scientists as tools to better detect alcohol intoxication. They are NOT mandatory.
When you apply for your Florida driver’s license, the law says that you automatically give consent to take a chemical test when asked by an officer in relation to a lawful DUI investigation. But there is no law saying you must perform field sobriety tests. By performing these field sobriety tests when the officer requests, you are providing the police and the prosecutor with more evidence that you are impaired. If you don’t perform the physical tests, the police will not be able to testify as follows:
“Yes, your honor. He had a failing score on all 3 field sobriety tests. That’s why I arrested him.”
The officer must have “probable cause” to arrest someone for DUI, not just a reasonable suspicion. Failing field sobriety tests gives the officer the probable cause they need to arrest you.
Myth # 4 — DUI Lawyers Can’t Stop You From Being Convicted of DUI (WRONG)
Skilled DUI lawyers study new DUI law as it develops across the country every day. DUI defense is a specialty within criminal defense work. DUI defense specialists know how to challenge the legitimacy of the traffic stop, how to expose an officer who made mistakes administering field sobriety tests, how long an officer must keep watching a breathalyzer subject before they blow into the machine, and how to check the credentials of the officer operating the testing equipment.
Experienced DUI lawyers are also very skilled at convincing prosecutors that the evidence is weak or that the defendant is deserving of a break, getting the government to reduce the charge to a non-DUI offense so that all records can be expunged or sealed as soon as the lower offense’s probation is complete.
Of course, every case has different circumstances, a different fact pattern, and involves different individuals. The results in any particular case depend on many variables, the expertise (or lack thereof) of the arresting police officer, the weather conditions, the lighting conditions, the reasons for the traffic stop, the maintenance of the breathalyzer machine, the defendant’s previous cases, if any, and other factors. But every single case presents a qualified DUI defense lawyer with a slew of potentially flawed evidence that the prosecutor will wish was better. The best DUI defense lawyers can find grounds to fight for you in every case.
Myth # 5 — It’s Cheaper to Pay DUI Fines Than to Hire a DUI Defense Lawyer (WRONG)
The punishment a DUI conviction carries is far more severe than people realize. Yes, there are court fines, alcohol education fees, probation fees, fees to regain your license when your period of suspension ends, and maybe even some time in jail. If you don’t hire a good DUI defense lawyer, you may think that you got off cheaply.
In reality, your punishment for the DUI conviction is just beginning. If you simply accept a conviction and you don’t hire an experienced DUI lawyer, you will live with a public record of a DUI conviction that carries a substantial social stigma that can cost you job opportunities, apartment rentals, bank loans, social invitations, and even friendships.
Of course, this doesn’t account for your added transportation costs during your license suspension, higher insurance premiums, or the heightened risk you run of more severe penalties if you ever suffer a second DUI or Refusal conviction.
Hire a DUI Lawyer
The cost of hiring an experienced DUI defense lawyer to fight your DUI case can save you thousands of dollars in the long run and save you from a lifetime of embarrassment and humiliation. Beating a DUI case for a client is highly motivating for a dedicated DUI defense attorney.
Call Stechschulte Nell for a DUI case review today; 813-280-1244. We are ready to defend you.