Under Arrest for a DUI? Keep Cool!

No one plans to get arrested, especially for DUI. The experience becomes even more unpredictable if drinking alcohol tends to make someone quicker to lose their temper. Maintaining an even temper, staying calm, and keeping control of yourself is a driver’s best strategy to improve their chance of resolving their DUI charge favorably. 


With decades of experience handling DUI cases, the Stechschulte Nell Law Firm in Tampa knows how much damage can be done when a DUI defendant loses their cool during their arrest. In this blog post, we’ll explain why losing your cool during a DUI arrest can make it harder for your DUI defense lawyer to get the case dismissed, how more criminal charges could be added by the police, and we’ll tell you what you should when facing arrest in Florida for suspected DUI. 



Why Losing Your Cool During a DUI Arrest Can Hurt Your Case 


When a police officer stops a driver for any reason, including suspicion of DUI, they don’t know what will confront them when they approach the car they pulled over. In most cases, the driver is cooperative, responsive, and relatively polite, even though they’re not happy. But some rare traffic stops can turn into life-threatening shootouts.  


Since the officers don’t know which driver will reach for a gun or speed off starting a high-speed chase, their heightened sense of anxiety puts them in a state in which they are likely to perceive any hostility as a threat. That’s how simple, everyday traffic stops can turn result in police piling on additional charges against a driver who acts out. 


Learn More > What is Probable Cause for a DUI in Florida? 


Helping Your Lawyer Help You 


When a defendant verbally attacks the police, forcefully pulls away to keep from being cuffed, or can be depicted as very abusive, the mindset of both the prosecutor and the judge becomes less empathetic.  


By keeping your emotions in check, even if you think you are being treated unfairly, your lawyer can highlight the unfairness of the arrest and the lack of legal justification to get the case dismissed. 


Judges are human. When seeking a judge’s ruling on a motion that could go either way, the defendant’s demeanor has an impact. Similarly, when negotiating with a prosecutor or persuading them to drop or amend charges, aggressive or hostile behavior by the defendant usually douses a prosecutor’s interest in conceding anything. 


What Other Criminal Charges Can the Police Add If You Behave Badly During a Florida Arrest 


Being charged with a DUI alone is enough of a challenge for most people to face in their life. The risk of losing your driver’s license, paying thousands in fines and combined costs, paying for and attending mandatory DUI programs, having a permanent, public record of a DUI conviction, and even a possible jail sentence is a powerful wake-up call. 


But mouthing off at a police officer during a traffic stop or during an arrest (constitutionally protected speech) can easily slip into illegal threats, especially when someone’s level of blood alcohol content (BAC) is elevated.   


Obstructing Justice (Resisting) — F.S. 843.01 


The most common bad behavior an unhappy arrestee performs is trying to resist the officer’s grasp or refusing to cooperate with the cuffing process. People often think they have the right to physically resist an arrest if it’s unfair or unjust. Dozens of examples are available to view on TV or online in which a person hides their hands, jerks away from an officer’s grasp, or seems to wrestle with an officer on the ground. Anyone who physically resists arrest in Florida is likely to be charged with obstructing justice by resisting arrest. The crime is a 1st-degree misdemeanor. (Penalty up to 1 year in jail and $1,000 fine.) 


Violently resisting arrest is a 3rd-degree felony. (Penalty up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.) 


[The only circumstances in which any force can legally be used by an arrested is to repel the use of “excessive force” by police. Only in the rarest of arrests would that circumstance be legally recognized by a court or prosecutor.] 


Assaulting Police (Verbally) without Acts of Violence — F.S. 784.07  


Verbally threatening to harm a police officer (assault) is a 1st-degree misdemeanor, carrying a penalty of up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine. (That’s more serious than the DUI first offense.) 


Assaulting Police with Acts of Violence (Battery) — F.S. 784.07 


Striking a police officer, shoving them, or otherwise offensively touching them during an arrest constitutes a 3rd-degree felony for which a defendant can be sentenced to prison for up to 5 years and fined $5,000. 


Aggravated Assault on Police without an Act of Violence (Threatening with a Weapon) — F.S. 784.07 


Threatening a police officer with a weapon, a club, a gun, a car, or anything likely to cause them to fear injury is a 2nd-degree felony carrying up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. 


What You Should Do When You Are Arrested for DUI in Florida 


  • To immediately reduce any anxiety the officer may feel approaching an unknown driver, turn the vehicle off and rest both of your hands on the steering wheel as you wait for the police to come to the window.  
  • (Good idea to open all the car windows. If asked why, you can say, “I thought it would make your job easier.” 
  • Stay polite, even if you are irritated.  
  • Try to stay calm and try to speak clearly and speak as little as possible. No storytelling.  
  • Do not admit to drinking. 
  • Do not get lured into a “friendly” conversation.  
  • When asked any questions, politely tell the officer “Thanks, but I’d like to talk with a lawyer before I say anything.” That statement and silence cannot be used against you as evidence. 
  • Field Sobriety Tests: You are not legally required to perform any field sobriety tests. The Field Sobriety Tests’ only purpose is to collect evidence against you. 
  • Do not chat with the police in the cruiser on the way to the police station. 
  • Call an experienced DUI defense lawyer the first moment you can. 


Learn More > 10 Things to Know About a DUI in Florida  


Florida DUI Defense 


It is imperative to keep your cool if you are pulled over for a DUI in Florida. Remember, if you have been charged with a DUI, you need experienced counsel to help mitigate the charges you face.  


If you live near Tampa or St. Petersburg, call Stechschulte Nell for a case review at 813-280-1244. We are on your side.  

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