An arrest for drunk driving or driving under the influence (DUI) can be a traumatizing experience. After a drink or two at the Florida State Seminoles’ game, the company end-of-year party, or other social gathering, it is possible to “feel fine” or “not feel drunk” and still be arrested for DUI.
If you are arrested for DUI in Leon County, including Tallahassee, Woodville, or surrounding areas, it is important to consult an experienced DUI attorney immediately. Even if you feel that you will obviously be convicted, it is crucial to consult an experienced DUI attorney who has specialized knowledge of DUI law and the Florida criminal law process.
How a DUI Arrest Occurs in Tallahassee, Florida.
Generally, an individual is arrested for DUI following a traffic stop or other encounter with a police officer. The officer may observe certain bad driving behaviors including the following:
- Swerving or failure to maintain lane
- Driving too slowly
- Accident or collision
- DUI checkpoint
Field Sobriety Tests in Northern Florida
Customarily, the officer will request the driver submit to a field sobriety test, like the walk and turn, horizontal gaze nystagmus, or one-leg stand. Field sobriety tests are ordinarily filmed on the officer’s dash camera or body camera. Although a driver is not required to submit to field sobriety tests, most drivers will comply with the officer’s request.
Typically, field sobriety tests are conducted as follows:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus– The officer holds a stimulus, usually a pen or stylus, in front of the drivers face and requests the driver follow the movement of the pen from left to right in a horizontal motion. The officer watches the driver’s eyes for a nystagmus or a deviation in the eye movement.
- Walk and Turn– The officer requests the driver walk in a straight line with both hands by his or her side. The driver must walk in the straight line, one foot in front of the other, heel to toe. The driver must then pivot after a certain number of steps and repeat the heel-toe movement in the opposite direction.
- One-Leg Stand– With the one-leg stand test, the officer requests the driver stand and lift one leg approximately 6 inches off the ground and maintain both hands by his or her side. The officer observes the driver for signs of intoxication, including failure to maintain balance or follow instructions.
Chemical and Breathalyzer Testing in Florida
Lastly, the officer may request the driver submit to chemical testing, including blood, alcohol, or urine testing. Florida is an implied consent state. By virtue of having a driver’s license and driving on Florida’s roads, an individual consents chemical testing. Refusal to submit to chemical testing may result in driver’s license suspension.
The most commonly used chemical test is the breathalyzer test. Most law enforcement agencies use the Intoxilyzer 8000, which tests the blood alcohol concentration or BAC. If the test shows the driver (over the age of 21) had a BAC of 0.08 or higher, he or she may be charged with DUI under Florida Statute § 316.193. If the driver is under the age of 21, he or she may be charged with DUI if the BAC is 0.02 or higher.
Blood alcohol concentration or BAC cannot be predicted in advance and is based on several factors, including but not limited to the following:
- The driver’s weight
- The driver’s metabolism
- The amount of alcohol consumed
- The time that elapsed while the alcohol was consumed
- Food consumed while drinking alcohol
Issues with Evidence Collected During a DUI Stop in Northern Florida
While it may appear the evidence collected during a DUI stop, including the dash-cam video of the field sobriety test and breathalyzer results, may seem overwhelming and conclusively prove guilt, it is important to understand DUI defense attorneys are specially trained to handle these matters.
Depending on the unique facts in your case, an experienced Tallahassee drunk driving defense lawyer may be able to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence in your case. For example, there are several recognized reasons an individual may fail a field sobriety test without being impaired, including the following:
- Age– The field sobriety tests, especially the walk and turn and one-leg stand require a certain amount of coordination, which may be diminished with age. An individual may fail or perform poorly because of a bad hip, prior injury, or other age-related incapacity.
- Medical Condition– Certain medical conditions or medications may cause an individual to perform poorly on a field sobriety test. For example, every individual has some sort of nystagmus or deviation of eye moment. The nystagmus may be intensified by certain diabetes medications and head injury.
- Lack of Coordination- Naturally, some people are more coordinated than others. Standing on one leg for 30 seconds may be challenging and require several attempts even if the person is not impaired.
- Officer Error- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the officer administering the field sobriety test must follow certain procedures. Failure to follow these procedures can invalidate the test or cause a driver to perform poorly. For example, the officer must perform these tests on a level surface.
In addition to issues with the field sobriety test, there may be issues with the breathalyzer machine, the Intoxilyzer 8000, and the subsequent results. While the general public may believe the Intoxilyzer 8000 is a reliable device, there are several surprising issues with the device, including the following:
- The Intoxilyzer 8000 destroys the entire sample, making retesting impossible.
- The factory warranty on the Intoxilyzer 8000 lasts only 90 days.
- Each state can design its own software to report or hide certain data that is important to determine whether the machine is working properly.
Challenging Evidence in DUI Cases in Tallahassee, Florida
There are many aspects to a DUI case in Tallahassee, Florida. It is imperative to consult a DUI attorney with the experience and skill to analyze the evidence against you and build the strongest defense on your behalf.
The team of attorneys at the Law Offices of Don Pumphrey have tried countless DUI cases to verdict and will devise the best strategies to obtain the most favorable result on your behalf. Contact the Law Offices of Don Pumphrey at (850) 681-7777 for a free, confidential review of your case.
The Law Offices of Don Pumphrey strongly defends individuals charged with DUI, Underage DUI, and Drugged Driving throughout Leon, Bay, Jefferson, Wakulla, Gadsden, Gulf, Liberty, Calhoun, Washington, Jackson, Franklin Counties, and surrounding areas.