Driving while under the influence of alcohol can be a very dangerous and costly mistake to make. Florida considers any individual operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher to be legally DUI, or driving under the influence. Regardless of whether you didn’t feel drunk or felt your driving ability wasn’t affected, your BAC is often the determining factor in your conviction. This limit is lowered to 0.05% for anyone under the legal drinking age of 21 (considered to be minors under certain DUI laws), and the penalties can be severe. Penalties can include revocation of their driver’s license until they are 18 (first-time offenders) or revocation until they turn 21 (second-time offenders).
When you are pulled over by a police officer, they will perform a series of sobriety & field tests if they suspect you are DUI. The most notorious of these is the breathalyzer test, and Florida, unlike other states, requires you to comply with this test. Anyone receiving a driver’s license in Florida is automatically agreeing to perform this test if it is requested by an officer. Failure to comply carries its own set of penalties, depending on whether this is the first, second, or third time you’ve refused a breathalyzer test. The first refusal results in license suspension for 1 year, and a second or third refusal results in license suspension for 18 months. Aside from the consequence of license suspension, courts might interpret your refusal as an admission of guilt. It is generally recommended to comply with the field & sobriety tests an officer gives you, as these can potentially be invalidated. Simply put, it just doesn’t look good to avoid the tests – it makes you look guilty. For instance, the field tests they administer (like walking in a straight line, reciting the abc’s backwards, etc.) are difficult for most anyone, sober or drunk, to actually perform. Aside from their inherent difficulty, there might be a medical condition or medication which hinders your performance – or even a piece of obstructing clothing (think high-heels). Breathalyzer tests can also be invalidated for a variety of reasons, including how the test was given, how the results were analyzed, and the maintenance record of the specific equipment used. There have been cases where a breathalyzer device was not maintained according to state regulations, and the convictions were overturned as the equipment could no longer be relied on to provide accurate results.
An experienced attorney can help you determine whether any health or environmental factors could potentially invalidate your conviction. Because they have experience arguing these kinds of defenses, they can anticipate what the prosecution’s arguments will be. If you’ve been ticketed for a DUI, contact The Law Office of Jerry Jenkins today for a free case evaluation.