If you’re facing DUI charges in Florida, it’s important to keep in mind that the State’s DUI case against you began the moment the officer pulled you over. In this article, we’ll take a quick overview of each stage of a Florida DUI arrest from the defendant’s standpoint.
1) The traffic stop
At some point, while you were driving, an officer observed something that led to your traffic stop. Perhaps you drove through a red light, you swerved, you exceeded the speed limit or you didn’t have your headlights on. As long as the officer had a valid reason to pull you over, the traffic stop was lawful.
The officer will then make various observations, which might serve to support his or her allegations that you were driving while intoxicated. The officer could claim that you smelled like alcohol, had slurred speech or had difficulty walking and appeared disheveled. Of course, these observations are the opinions of the officer. They might not necessarily be valid.
3) Field sobriety test and Breathalyzer test
If the officer believes you are impaired, he or she will ask you to complete a field sobriety test. In addition, a Breathalyzer test will probably be given. Depending on how you perform on these tests, the officer may decide to arrest you and charge you with a DUI crime.
4) The arrest and booking
In the instance of an arrest, the officer will take you back to the police station for further blood alcohol concentration tests and booking. It’s possible that you’ll need to spend the night in jail.
During the above four states of the DUI arrest process, the officer will be gathering evidence that could be used against you in court. However, you will not be convicted of any crime until — and only if — the prosecution can successfully use this evidence to prove that you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Until this happens, you’ll have every opportunity to defend yourself against the charges.