How to challenge a DUI in Florida

On Behalf of | Oct 29, 2021 | Criminal defense

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drunk drivers cause around 10,000 fatal accidents annually. A drunk driving accident can change someone’s life, which is why states enact stern DUI laws. However, a person in Bartow, Florida, arrested for DUI may use several defenses to fight the charges.

Inaccurate Breathalyzer

Police officers commonly use a breath test to measure BAC, or blood alcohol content, to test for DUI. In Florida and most all states, the BAC is 0.08 for general drivers, 0.04 for commercial drivers, and 0.02 for drivers under 21.

However, breath tests are not always accurate; the device may not have been calibrated, or the officer lacks proper training. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes and acid reflux, produce ketones that show as positive on a test.

Illegal traffic stop

The officer must witness an act that gives them a reason to believe that the driver violated traffic laws, not just random hunches. For example, an officer can stop a driver who drives erratically or speeds, but they cannot wait outside a bar.

An exception to reasonable suspicion is a DUI checkpoint, and it still must meet certain legal requirements. DUI checkpoints must be properly marked and have a supervisor to ensure that they are conducted correctly.

Unlawful arrest and search

Under the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the officer must have reasonable suspicion to search, arrest or seize. To make an arrest, the officer must have proof that the driver was impaired and had control of the vehicle.

An officer who pulls a driver over will typically watch him or her for about 20 minutes, looking for signs of intoxication. If an officer seizes possible evidence of drunk driving without following certain steps, it may get thrown out.

Florida has tough DUI laws, so those facing charges may fear a conviction and the associated penalties. However, an arrest doesn’t mean guilty, and the prosecution must prove the case.