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Experienced Defense Attorneys for Drunk Driving Offenses in Florida

Experienced Defense Attorneys for Drunk Driving Offenses in Florida

If you’ve been arrested (and possibly charged) with a Florida DUI offense, then you may be feeling overwhelmed and anxious.  This is perfectly reasonable, as a DUI conviction can lead to severe criminal and civil penalties that could have a significant impact on your overall life trajectory.

Given the stakes, it is important to consult an experienced Florida DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible for guidance.  Here at Fowler Law Group, our Sarasota and Bradenton DUI attorneys have helped numerous DUI defendants avoid criminal liability, particularly in cases where law enforcement was overzealous and lacked sufficient proof of misconduct.

 

Understanding the Potential Defenses to a DUI Charge

There are a variety of effective defenses that can be employed to fight a DUI charge.  These defenses include, but are not limited to:

    • The law enforcement officers did not establish the necessary “reasonable suspicion” to engage in a legitimate police stop.
    • The law enforcement officers did not establish “probable cause” of intoxication necessary to perform the arrest.
    • You were not actually in control of the vehicle (i.e., you got into your car to search for a personal item but were not actually intending to start and drive the car anywhere).
    • You were not actually intoxicated.
    • The DUI tests were improperly performed, inaccurate, or otherwise unreliable.

Let’s take a closer look at how to attack the DUI tests that were administered.

 

Police Alcohol Tests May Be Unreliable

Testing is a critical issue in DUI prosecutions.

If you can show that the DUI test the law enforcement officers used (to establish probable cause) in making their arrest was inaccurate or otherwise unreliable, and therefore could not form the legal basis for an arrest, then you may be able to have the DUI charges dismissed.

 

Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are tests administered on-site (i.e., at the “crime” scene) to determine whether the driver is intoxicated.  In Florida, there are a few standardized FSTs administered by law enforcement officers:

 

  • The horizontal gaze test (i.e., tracking the law enforcement officer’s finger with your eye);

 

  • The walk-and-turn test (i.e., walking in a straight line and turning, all while counting out loud and maintaining balance, and starting-stopping at the officer’s discretion); and
  • The one-legged balance test (i.e., standing on one leg and maintaining balance while counting out loud.)

 

 

FSTs have been criticized for decades, and for good reason.

FSTs are not particularly reliable tests of intoxication, given that there are a number of confounding factors — an individual may simply have a poor sense of motor balance (perhaps due to a medical condition), which has nothing to do with consumption of alcohol.  Some individuals simply have trouble with divided attention tasks, like FSTs, whether intoxicated or not.  It is not hard to imagine that many drivers would struggle to balance on one leg and count out loud, even when completely sober.

 

Chemical Tests

Chemical tests for DUI include the following:

 

  • Breath (e.g. breathalyzer)

 

  • Urine
  • Blood

 

 

 

Though chemical tests are sometimes perceived to be relatively more reliable than FSTs, they are not necessarily reliable in absolute terms.  Testing may be conducted improperly, causing errors.  False positives are not uncommon — for example, there are individuals who have alcohol content in their blood due to a medical condition, and it has nothing to do with actual liquor consumption.

Breathalyzer tests are perhaps the most notorious of the chemical tests and are the most commonly implemented in real-world scenarios — law enforcement officers frequently conduct breathalyzer tests (at checkpoints and otherwise) to establish probable cause to make a DUI arrest.

There are a number of problems with breathalyzer tests.  First, it is quite common for law enforcement officers to perform the test incorrectly — often due to their failure to properly calibrate the breathalyzer prior to testing.  Second, breathalyzers may not be up-to-date and therefore might not be accurate.  Breathalyzers have a limited shelf life, and if the breathalyzer was used after its intended “expiration date,” then the results can almost certainly be challenged for inaccuracy.

 

Refusing a Floruda DUI Test — Is that a Good Choice? 

In Florida, field sobriety tests are voluntary — you do not have to submit to an FST, though there are real consequences for refusal. Namely, your refusal to submit to an FST could be used as evidence against you in court.  As such, in many cases, it is better to submit to an FST and subsequently challenge the findings than to refuse testing outright.

Chemical tests are different.  Florida is an implied consent state with respect to DUI chemical tests (breath, urine, blood).  Essentially, when you obtained your driver’s license, the law says that you consented to submit to a DUI chemical test.  Refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test could lead to the suspension of your license and potentially even criminal charges.

 

How Can a Florida DUI Defense Lawyer Help?

Lawyers are fundamental to success in fighting a DUI.

An experienced DUI defense attorney has litigated numerous DUI claims and understands the strategies typically engaged by prosecutors, giving them the insight necessary to go on the offensive and seek an early resolution (i.e., showing that the test results were not definitive, thus forcing the prosecutors to drop the charges).  In cases where you were actually intoxicated, a skilled attorney can argue persuasively on your behalf to minimize the penalties and therefore limit the negative impact on your life.

 

Contact Fowler Law Group for a Free Consultation

DUI advocacy is ultimately a matter of building a persuasive defense by “poking holes” in the prosecution’s arguments.

Here at Fowler Law Group, our Florida attorneys have decades of experience working with those who have been charged with a DUI.  We are keen litigators who understand the challenges facing defendants, from severe penalties to the social and career ramifications of a criminal conviction — as such, we are committed to investing sufficient time and attention towards each client to ensure they receive thorough, personalized legal representation.

Ready to speak to a skilled DUI defense lawyer at Fowler Law Group?

Call us at 941-404-8909 or send us a message online to schedule a free and confidential consultation today.

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