Whenever you are arrested and charged with DUI, it is important to become familiar with your rights and legal options as the DUI process is underway.
Police Officer Contact
When an officer stops your vehicle under the suspicion that you are driving under the influence, the stop has likely come from warning signs he or she may have seen while you were on the road. The officer may have seen you swerve, disobey traffic signals, or drive well-under the speed limit. After the officer stopped your vehicle and approached your car he or she will have likely identified ‘probable cause’ to initiate DUI testing.
A qualified DUI lawyer will tell you that probable cause for DUI testing can include: flushed cheeks, slurred speech, dilated pupils, incoherent speech, and other indicators of physical impairment. Once DUI testing begins, the officer is required to ask you to consent before initiating any tests. Remember, no DUI test is ever conducted without your consent. However if you refuse to undergo any such testing, the officer should inform you that any such refusal carries additional penalties, which can include longer license suspensions and adverse inference instructions to a jury.
When You Were Arrested
After the officer has concluded that you are either (1) impaired due to the influence of alcohol or drugs, or (2) your blood/breath alcohol levels are .08% or higher, he or she will read you your Miranda rights. If no such rights are read or recited, let your DUI attorney know IMMEDIATELY. Failure to read such warnings could result in the dismissal of crucial evidence in your case.
After you have been arrested, booked, and likely thrown into a holding cell for the night, the state will begin the process of suspending your license. This is the time to call a DUI attorney immediately. Your license will automatically be suspended within 10 days of the arrest unless you immediately request a hearing with Florida DMV. This hearing is different from the criminal process and can suspend your license even though you are found “not guilty” in a criminal court of law. Again, unless you or your lawyer request a hearing in front of the Florida DMV, your license will automatically be suspended for 6 months on your first offense; 12 months on your second; and 18 months on your third.
The criminal penalties for drunk driving are also severe and come with a plethora of potential consequences including: jail time, probation, license suspension, and hefty fines.