Florida DUI Arrest Defense
There are literally dozens of different ways a DUI defense attorney can attack the prosecution’s case, raise reasonable doubt, or put up reasons why a case should be dismissed or not go forward to a guilty verdict. Some of these defenses relate to the traffic stop and some relate to the blood alcohol content (BAC) testing process, while others relate to the circumstances surrounding the arrest.
At Meldon Law, our skilled and knowledgeable Florida DUI defense attorneys look at every aspect of a DUI case, including the initial stop, BAC testing, and the arrest, so that we are ready to present all available defenses and provide our clients with the best representation we can. See below for examples of the kinds of mistakes police officers make when they arrest people for drunk driving. If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence in Florida, call Meldon Law for a no-cost evaluation of your case so we can let you know where you stand and how our dedicated DUI defense attorneys can help.
No Probable Cause
Police officers might only need “reasonable suspicion” to pull you over if they think you were driving while impaired, but they need “probable cause” to arrest you. The requirement for probable cause is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, and it is one of the principal ways the Constitution protects people from government overreach or abuse when they decide to accuse someone of committing a crime. Without probable cause, the arrest was likely unlawful. The chemical test of your BAC comes after your arrest, so if your arrest was improper, the police didn’t have the right to test your breath, and those test results (along with the rest of the government’s case) can be thrown out.
Unlawful or Warrantless Arrest
Another constitutional protection is that a warrant is generally required before an arrest can be made (warrants must also be supported by probable cause). However, it is rare if not unheard of for the police to get a warrant before arresting someone for DUI. Florida law allows the police to make a warrantless arrest for driving under the influence if the offense is committed in the officer’s presence. Either the arresting officer must have witnessed the violation, or information must have been relayed by a fellow officer stationed on the ground or in the air. The arrest can be made “immediately or in fresh pursuit.”
Most DUI arrests flow from a traffic stop initiated by the officer who observed the defendant driving. If your case involves other circumstances, such as an arrest based on an anonymous tip, it is possible the subsequent warrantless arrest was unlawful.
Violations of the Privilege Against Self-Incrimination
You have a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, which means you can’t be forced to answer questions that could be used against you. This is why every police procedural TV show includes the famous Miranda warnings (You have the right to remain silent. If you give up the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you. You have the right to an attorney…). What happens if you are involved in a crash and the police suspect you of driving under the influence? The police can ask you questions as part of their routine accident investigation, but they can’t ask you questions as part of a criminal investigation without first reading you your Miranda rights. If the police don’t follow the proper procedure here, any statements you make can’t be used against you. A diligent DUI defense attorney will be sure such statements don’t get into court.
Traffic accidents notwithstanding, your Miranda rights apply any time you are interrogated while in custody. Being “in custody” means either that you have been arrested or that you are not free to leave. The police are allowed to briefly detain and question people in certain circumstances without invoking Miranda, but it can be difficult to determine when you are “detained” and when you are “in custody” during a traffic stop. Miranda violations can occur in these situations as well, and even after you have been arrested.
Insufficient Arrest Reports
Police officers don’t relish doing paperwork, and they have a lot of it to do. Nevertheless, an arrest report is a critical document as it provides the basis to show there was probable cause to arrest. Officers sometimes only put down conclusory statements in their reports instead of including the facts and details that led to their conclusions. They might even just cut and paste boilerplate language from other arrest reports they have done before to save time. If the arrest report itself doesn’t contain sufficient facts to support an arrest, the prosecutor might have a difficult time proving the arrest was lawful when challenged by a savvy DUI defense attorney.
Skilled and Zealous Florida DUI Defense Attorneys
These are just some of the ways the police might get it wrong when making an arrest. Your protections against an unlawful arrest are vital, and we’ll do everything we can to defend you against warrantless arrests based on a lack of probable cause or insufficient information. Remember, the arrest is just one aspect of your DUI case where mistakes can be made. At Meldon Law, we take a comprehensive look at every aspect of your case to build a strong defense against the charges leveled at you.
If you are being charged with driving under the influence in Florida, call Meldon Law at 800-373-8000 for a free consultation with a team of dedicated and successful Florida DUI defense attorneys.