You know that if you go out, have a few drinks and then proceed to drive home there is a possibility that you may be pulled over and charged for driving under the influence. It is the chance any Florida resident takes when choosing to drink and drive. If you know what to expect during a DUI traffic stop and what your rights are, it can make going through such an experience a little less frightening.
So, what can you expect if pulled over for suspected DUI? You can expect police to ask you a lot of questions, ask you to submit to blood-alcohol level testing and ask you to participate in field sobriety testing — among other things.
Being questioned by police
When police initiate a traffic stop, they are free to ask the driver questions without having to read the Miranda warning first. They are only required to read individuals their rights if they take suspects into custody. You are free to answer or refuse to answer any questions they ask you.
It is standard practice to ask a suspected drunk driver to submit to a breath test in order to determine his or her BAC — despite the fact that this test is not always accurate. Breath testing is simple as it only requires the suspect to offer a small breath sample into an alcohol-detecting device.
For drivers over the age of 21, if BAC results are at or over 0.08%, authorities consider them legally intoxicated. There is a zero tolerance policy for underage drinkers. Finally, for commercial drivers, a BAC level at 0.04% or higher meets the definition of legally impaired.
Field sobriety testing
Officers often use field sobriety testing, but, just like BAC testing, there are concerns about its accuracy. Officers who administer field sobriety tests need to have proper training and have to know exactly what to look for. The three standard tests used are:
- The walk and turn
- The one-leg stand
- The horizontal gaze nystagmus
All of these examine a suspected drunk driver’s physical ability to perform various tasks and mental ability to follow directions.
After a DUI stop
If an officer does ultimately charge you with DUI after a traffic stop, the steps you take after your arrest can have a significant impact on your case. Know that you have the right to defend yourself and that you may have help doing so.