For many people it is a nightmare come true: stopped by the police on the way home and arrested for driving under the influence.
The good news is both Brevard and Volusia counties now offer programs for some first time offenders in which an amended charge of reckless driving is offered, if certain criteria are met. Prosecutors will evaluate the blood alcohol level, demeanor, and history of the defendant in determining whether these programs will be offered.
In cases where there is an accident, or where a person is obviously completely drunk, there is often little doubt regarding an eventual outcome: mandatory DUI penalties as set out by the Florida Legislature. Penalties may include probation, community service, fines, court costs, a driver’s license suspension, vehicle impoundment, driving courses, and so forth. Depending on the severity of the facts, some people may be sentenced to county jail.
The bottom line is that any evidence that will indicate that a person is impaired will be used against them. An admission of prescription drug use will be used against a person. Driving under the influence often occurs in Florida when people are intoxicated by their own medications.
If a person refuses to provide a breath sample, they will typically lose their license for 12 months. The fact that they refused to provide a breath sample can be mentioned in court. However, some people do not trust the calibration of the breath testing equipment. When a person has previously been arrested for and refused a breath test, and subsequently is arrested again and refuses a second time, they can be charged with a crime: Second Time Refusal to Provide a Breath Sample. So the option to refuse, if used, is not really available again.
The second part of a DUI investigation will normally involve field sobriety exercises. People can elect to take part in the exercises or not. Often, there is no video of the exercises, so the police officer’s account of what happened is the only evidence of how well someone did. People who have medical conditions that might affect their performance are better off if they remember to mention their physical limitations. The fact that someone denied being ill or having any physical limitations can be used against them in court. When requested to perform field sobriety exercises, remember to tell the officer if you have physical limitations, an illness, or an injury!
One of the main signs of impairment that police notice is the failure to follow the directions properly. For example, the police officer may instruct someone to stand on a certain leg. If the other one is used, then the failure to follow directions may be seen as a sign of impairment. The result is that people who are nervous and scared sometimes do less well on the tests simply due to the fact that they are not following the directions properly.
Do you have more questions? We may be reached by phone at (321) 253-6223 or (386) 218-4973.