A DUI case is one of the most complex types of criminal cases and it can change a person’s life. If convicted, a DUI sentence carries not just the penalties ordered by the court, such as classes, probation, and community service, but also collateral penalties that come with the conviction, such as a much higher insurance. Florida has very serious penalties for even first time DUI offenders.
When someone is arrested for DUI, it is usually a surprise to that person. Our clients are ordinary, hard working people, that never thought something like that could happen to them. Our job is not to judge, but to see how we can help and evaluate every case carefully. Every single DUI case is different, and we ask clients to complete a detailed questionnaire (please see link above), so we can know about the case, as much as they do to prepare for appropriate DUI defense.
Good Starting Point
A good starting point to evaluate your case is how you were pulled over, more specifically why were you pulled over. Was it for speeding? a broken tail light? perhaps weaving within the lane? or the officers claims he suspected an impaired driver? In order to pull you over, the officer must have reasonable suspicion. In the absence of reasonable suspicion, the stop has to be suppressed. This type of issue is brought up before the court on a Motion to Suppress, the Court will than hear the testimony and argument, and make a decision. If the Motion to Suppress is granted, this can lead to the suppression of the entire stop and the arrest.
Additionally, we ask clients for information about Field Sobriety Exercises. When did the officer ask you to perform these exercises? Did he have reasonable suspicion to suspect impairment? So, for example in a situation where one officer pulls you over, and calls a DUI officer for a DUI investigation, we evaluate to see if the first officer had enough reason to suspect you were impaired. Once again, this can be a break in your case.
Unfortunately, people taking the Field Sobriety Exercises never realize whether they did good or bad. Remember, they are exercises not “tests,” so there is no pass or fail. The officer is looking for signs of impairment, such as swaying, inability to maintain balance when walking a line, coordination, speech, color of face, smell, ability to follow directions and others. All of these can be considered signs of impairment. This is why before the officer lets you perform the Field Sobriety Exercises, he or she will ask you if you have any medical problems, disabilities or anything else that would prevent you from performing the exercises. It can be key to the defense of your case, for your lawyer to know if there was something that prevented you from doing well on the FSEs, such as back problems, vision problems, any previous injuries, even if you did not tell the officer on the day of the arrest.
Other Questions, that may be important to your defense are:
- What did you say to the police before and after arrest?
- How was your driving that night, i.e. were you weaving in an out of the lane?
- Where were the Field Sobriety Exercises performed?
- What were the conditions of the road?
Another avenue of attack is always the actual breath/blood test procedure, so all details are important.
The actual place where you were pulled over and performed the Field Sobriety Exercises may be helpful to your case, so we will drive out and visit the scene to help us evaluate the case and than be able to describe it to a jury.