Former State Prosecutor
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE PULLED
OVER FOR A DUI
By Harrison W. Poole, Esquire
The most common question I get asked at social gatherings when someone finds out that I'm an attorney is, "What should I do if I am pulled over for DUI?" While you should always take precautions to ensure that you don't drink and drive, if you happen to find yourself watching the flashing blue and red lights in your rear-view mirror, there are several things to remember.
First, make sure you have your driver's license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration out and ready before the officer even makes it to your window. I cannot tell you how many police reports I've read where the officer states the subject had difficulty retrieving the requested documentation, indicating impairment.
Second, you are under no obligation to tell the officer how much you have had to drink. Believe me, he or she is never going to believe that you, "only had a couple of beers." The point is, don't give them evidence to use against you later.
Next, if you are asked out of your vehicle by the officer, ASSUME YOU ARE GOING TO JAIL. If the officer has requested that you exit your vehicle, it is because they already have a reasonable suspicion that you are DUI and they are conducting a DUI investigation. You will be asked to perform some field sobriety exercises. The officer may tell you he or she just wants to check to see if you're ok to drive - but in actuality, they are trying to gather as much evidence as possible to convict you of DUI. Again, the idea is not to give them evidence to be used against you - you are under no obligation to perform any roadside sobriety tests. And why would you want to? They are never under ideal circumstances - poorly lit areas, uneven pavement, flashing police lights, traffic whizzing by, wind or rain - you get the point. Further, the test are very difficult that even a stone-cold sober person would difficulty with them. Sure, the officer will be able to demonstrate them with ease - that's because they
have performed them hundreds or thousands of times before. Don't do the tests and demand to speak to your attorney.
If you've been asked out of your car and you've refused the field sobriety tests, you will be handcuffed and placed in the rear of a patrol car. DO NOT PANIC. Do not plead with the officer. Do not apologize. Do not ask them to drop you off at a friend's house. Do not ask them to call a cab. It will only make matters worse. Most patrol cars are equipped with video cameras and microphones and you are most likely being recorded. Again - the point is to not give them any evidence to be used against you. Remain calm and remain silent.
At some point, either at the police station, the jail, or even in the back of a patrol car, you will be asked to give a sample of your breath. By accepting the privilege to drive in Florida, you have consented to giving such a sample. I cannot advise you to disregard the law. What I can tell you is the following: if you refuse the breath test, your license will be suspended for one year BUT you will be eligible for a hardship license after three months, in most cases; if you provide a sample of your breath over the legal limit, your license will be suspended for six months and you will have given the state strong evidence to be used against you; if, however, you provide a sample of your breath under the legal limit - the police DO NOT have the authority to "un-arrest" you - you will still be held until you can make bail or you are released; if you give a sample of your breath you are putting your faith in a mysterious machine
whose software and operation is closely guarded by its manufacturer and you are trusting that it is accurate and has been maintained properly; and finally, if it were me, I would never submit to a breath test based on what I know and have seen about the machine.
Finally, you will be held for at least eight hours and probably appear before a judge to set a bond amount. Once you have been released, immediately call a reputable and experienced DUI attorney, preferably me. It is very important that you hire an attorney quickly: to make sure you meet deadlines to contest your license suspension with DMV; to ensure evidence is preserved; and to contact witnesses while their memory is fresh. I never charge a consultation fee in criminal cases - so it won't cost you a thing to come in and get my evaluation of your case.
Harrison W. Poole, Esquire
Poole & Poole, P.A.
Still have questions? Please contact us anytime! We look forward to hearing from you.
Poole & Poole offers affordable and aggressive criminal defense to those charged with crimes in Nassau and Duval Counties. As a former state prosecutor, Harrison W. Poole has the unique perspective of both a prosecutor and defense attorney. Call today for a free consultation - (904) 261-0742.
The information on this Fernandina Beach, Florida DUI Attorney / Law Firm website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this or associated pages, documents, comments, answers, emails, or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information on this website is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
Copyright 2013 Poole & Poole, P.A. All rights reserved.