Very few experiences in life create the apprehension that comes when being pulled over by the police. The first thing most drivers think about is what they have done to be stopped. Others just wonder what the officer wants. And some obviously worry when they are in violation of the law in any manner.
Remember that while officers can issue a verbal warning, reminding a driver to abide by the law, police officers are often required to write a report every time the blue lights are used.
What this means for many drivers is that they are commonly subjected to treatment designed for those who are under reasonable suspicion to have committed a crime, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The typical driver usually does not know that they have legal rights in these situations, but the investigating officer surely does. And they may act to circumvent those rights. That is why it is so important to have an experienced DUI defense attorney representing your case.
One of the first things drivers commonly do is stop immediately. This is not always a good decision because the placement of the vehicle can matter during the investigation and even later if the officer decides to arrest.
Stopping the vehicle in a safe location means the traffic passing by will be at a safe distance, and the officer will not require immediate removal of the vehicle from along the highway.
Staying in your vehicle is the best decision for anyone being stopped. The officer will direct you to get out of the vehicle if they want to question you further during the investigation. Officers typically act as though every driver they pull over may be armed, dangerous, or intoxicated, and will conduct a sobriety check on almost every driver stopped. If you get out of the vehicle without being ordered to, you may accidentally intensify their concern that you are dangerous, or intoxicated.
They also routinely look in the vehicles under the plain sight rule. However, they still need probable cause to even pull someone over, which is often done on flimsy claims.
You also have the right to deny a vehicle search, but it could result in a request for a warrant and a long wait or even an arrest on a different charge. Using your right to call a criminal defense attorney is a good decision when this happens.
One of the best rules of thumb you should follow is to not answer questions when being interrogated, but it is important to remember that remaining silent means exactly that. Even answering one question could give the state an argument that you waived that right.
If the officer says that they aren’t interrogating you and instead they just want to chat informally, this usually means you are free to go. A good way to find out is to ask: “Am I under arrest, or am I free to go?” This requires law enforcement to define what is happening. If you are not free to go, then do not answer any questions.
Silence is not exactly selective, and both officers and prosecutors can be aggressive when your personal rights are an obstacle they want to hurdle. Law enforcement prosecutors and officers routinely violate personal legal rights, and they do so as a matter of policy in certain scenarios.
All drivers have the right to refuse field sobriety exercises. These exercises are designed to fail, and they will only help give the prosecution evidence against you.
Florida has an implied consent law that says all drivers have agreed to submit to breath or blood tests. If you refuse the breathalyzer in spite of the implied consent law, you will be subject to an extra period of license suspension, but you will prevent the prosecution from obtaining damning evidence against you in the courtroom.
Never go to court for a DUI without an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney in Florida. The legal counsel you choose can make a difference. That difference maker in Florida is Chesser & Barr PA in Oklaloosa County.