Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Florida carries stiff penalties. Even a first offense DUI conviction can result in up to 6 months in jail, a license revocation for 6 months, payment of up to a $1,000 fine and costs, installing and paying for an expensive ignition interlock device, mandatory substance abuse counseling, and psychological evaluation, and probation. If there was a minor child in the car during the DUI offense involving a BAC of .15 or more, the minimum penalties are higher. And if the DUI resulted in a crash, the driver faces up to a full year in jail, even for a first offense.
DUI Defense Lawyers Win by Challenging Evidence
DUI charges can be catastrophic in the lives of most people. Not only are the penalties imposed severe, but the impact of losing your driver’s license can also end your employment if you drive as part of your job. Understanding the technical building blocks the prosecution needs to win a conviction is the key to defeating the charge.
Experienced DUI defense lawyers study the science of how alcohol is processed by the human body, how the biochemistry works, the significance of the passage of time on blood alcohol absorption, and the scientific bases for field sobriety tests, and how a breathalyzer machine operates.
Challenging the Admissibility of the Prosecution’s Evidence
To win a conviction against a DUI defendant, the prosecutor needs to present a series of very specific pieces of evidence. If the judge rules any one of those necessary bits of evidence to be inadmissible, most DUI prosecutions collapse. Experienced DUI defense lawyers are experts at chipping away at the prosecution’s evidence.
Examples of how a good criminal defense lawyer can win a DUI acquittal are discussed below:
No Grounds for Reasonable Suspicion or Probable Cause —Most DUI arrests begin with a traffic stop carried out by a police patrol. The law requires that the officer have reasonable grounds to pull you over for a suspected traffic violation. If the officer sees erratic driving, unsafe swerving, or similar driving patterns, they may be justified to stop the driver. But many times, a driver is pulled over for a faulty taillight, or not stopping completely at a stop sign. These situations do not suggest any alcohol or substance-related impairment. Unless the officer can describe additional facts that suggested the involvement of drugs or alcohol impacting the driver’s normal faculties, your DUI lawyer could object to any evidence developed after the investigation was improperly expanded beyond the initial traffic stop.
Field Tests Not Performed Competently — Referred to as SSFTs, Standardized Sobriety Field Tests were developed after years of scientific research by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA). The result of these studies was the acceptance of a few standard tests that, if administered properly, may together indicate an alcohol impairment equal to a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. The problem is that many police officers do not follow the strict protocols required for the test result to be a reliable indicator of impairment. The purpose of the SFSTs is to establish probable cause to arrest the driver. If they pass the tests, the result is no probable cause to arrest. If the officer administers the test incorrectly, the results should also be discounted and create no probable cause.
Video Evidence Shows Field Test Passed Successfully — On occasion, police officers have a driver perform the Walk-And-Turn, the One-Leg-Stand, or another SFST, and the driver performs perfectly. Yet, the officer declares the driver failed and arrests them. Dashboard video evidence in such a case is very valuable in proving the tests were executed without failure and that the arrest was illegal.
Defendant’s Statements Admitting Guilt Illegally Obtained — When taking someone into custody, restricting their freedom to leave, cuffing them, or placing them in the rear of a locked police car, no questioning of the suspect can occur until Miranda warnings are given to the arrestee. If a driver is arrested and police ask questions like, “how many drinks did you have?” any answers the driver gives before having Miranda warnings read to them are inadmissible in court.
Also, Florida Statute 316.066 prohibits statements the driver makes to the police investigating the accident, including admissions the driver makes about drinking, from being admitted into evidence in any civil or criminal court.
Breathalyzer Protocol Not Followed — The machine used to measure the presence of alcohol in a person’s breath, called a breathalyzer machine, is a very sensitive, complex piece of equipment. It needs to be calibrated regularly to ensure its results are accurate. If the calibration is not certified regularly, the breathalyzer results should not be admissible.
The overall breathalyzer testing procedure starts long before the driver blows into the tube. The police must document continual observation of the suspect for at least 20 minutes before the test. If the driver ate, inhaled, or ingested other substances before the test, the test’s results would be flawed. The officer must also follow strict, step-by-step activities to conduct the test. And, of course, the officer or person operating the breathalyzer machine needs to be currently qualified to conduct the test.
Tampa DUI Defense Attorneys Analyze Your DUI for Inadmissible Evidence
At Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law, we pride ourselves on knowing the latest, up-to-the-minute developments in DUI law and DUI defense. Our years of experience permit us to challenge any evidence that does not meet the required standard of reliability to be admitted into Florida courts.
We defend DUI cases in Tampa and Hillsborough County. Call us today to discuss your case; 813-280-1244.