Driving under the influence is a mistake many people make and it has serious consequences. You may face a drivers license suspension, large fines, crazy interlock devices to start your car, or even a jail sentence. And, let’s not forget the insane car insurance rates for DUI convicts. If you have been arrested for DUI, there are a lot of questions that you probably want answered. Over the years, we have defended many clients arrested for DUI and we can help you find answers.
At the law offices of criminal defense attorney John P. Guidry II, we understand that people make mistakes. And sometimes, doing the right thing can still get you in trouble. Such is the case when Orlando citizens found sleeping in their shut down car are awoken by law enforcement and consequently arrested for “driving” under the influence due to vague notions of what constitutes being in actual physical control of a vehicle (is anyone in control of anything while they’re asleep?) Yes, doing the right thing can get you arrested.
An Orlando DUI lawyer understands the serious nature of a DUI charge and are committed to providing clients with a highly skilled criminal defense. For those charge with a first time DUI, there are programs available in some counties that can lead to the complete dismissal of all charges. This program is known as DUI diversion. To discuss this option and others, contact our Orlando law firm for a free consultation.
If You Have Been Arrested for DUI, the Clock is Ticking From the Moment of Your Arrest
If have been arrested for drunk driving, you need to act quickly to protect your rights. In Florida, the DMV can suspend your license and impose other driving restrictions before you ever step into a courtroom. From the time of your arrest, you only have ten days to appeal the DMV’s suspension. We can help you appeal the suspension or we can help you apply for a “hardship license” if the time for an appeal has expired. Or, you may apply for a hardship license in person at the DMV, but by doing so you may be waiving your right to an administrative hearing to contest the suspension. In order to get an immediate hardship license after a DUI arrest, the driver must appear in person to the Bureau of Administrative Reviews requesting such within 10 days. Of course, don’t do anything without talking to an attorney first.
And, even if there’s already a conviction for DUI, you may still be eligible for a hardship license after the DUI conviction, depending upon the circumstances. Even permanent license revocations now have a path towards reinstatement under new Florida laws.
Remember that, often times, a DUI is a crime supported only by an officers opinion. Sure, the government attempts to bolster the officer’s opinion thru use of Intoxilizer 5000 or 8000 results, but typically you have been arrested before blowing into the Intoxilizer machine because the officer’s opinion is that you are impaired beyond the legal limit. The only way to “test” an officer’s opinion is to challenge the officer via various motions to suppress, motions in limine (in others, asking the court to order a limit on what the officer can/cannot say), or take the DUI case to trial. Let the citizens know all the facts, especially regarding opinion testimony regarding results of so called Field Sobriety Exercises.
Problems With the Intoxilizer 8000
Once you’ve blown into an Intoxilizer 8000 machine, these breath results only create more questions than answers. And, if the prosecution can’t answer important questions regarding the functionality and reliability of the Intoxilizer, these results may not be admitted into evidence. For example, was the machine calibrated properly, and working accurately at the time the driver took the breath test? Even parts on the machine that are not required to be “calibrated” may be malfunctioning, thus causing the machine to give inaccurate results. It is possible that a perfectly sober driver can blow a .15% (or higher) breath test, but how? Does the state have a qualified expert witness who can establish the scientific admissibility of the machine? Another common scenario is the driver that blows a 0.00, and still gets arrested for DUI, how is that possible? For more information on such a scenario, see my article entitled “I Blew a 0.00 and Still Got a DUI Charge?“
Whenever an Intoxilizer machine is presented as evidence, this machine works by analyzing very small, microscopic amounts of air, thus every aspect of the machine and breath sample must be done with high precision, as it takes only a small variance in the machine or sample to cause a huge variance in results. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement actually publishes the results of every breath test taken on Florida intoxilizer machines. These results have been analyzed by numerous experts, and their findings do not point to any sort of accurate
DUI Cases Often Involve Opinion Testimony Regarding Roadside Sobriety “Tests”
To add insult to injury on the opinion driven DUI charge, often times the state will attempt to introduce the results of various tests given by the officer at the roadside. These tests are commonly referred to as Field Sobriety Tests (FST’s). The test that sounds the most scientific is probably the most ridiculous, it’s known as the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, and it attempts to measure blood alcohol levels via the involuntary jerking of the eyeball when forced to move at certain angles. For those drivers with bad knees, a bad back, or any number of other physical problems, get ready for gym class style antics with FST’s known as the Walk and Turn test, and the One Legged Stand. And yes, it’s true, most people cannot do these tests regardless of their blood alcohol level. But, that doesn’t stop a trained sheriff’s deputy from claiming that all sober people should be able to “pass” these exercises (they don’t like to call them “tests”, yet they still “grade” folks just like they’re being tested…).
Motions to Suppress, Challenging the Stop of a Vehicle
Most DUI cases begin with the stop of a vehicle. Now, this stop may be for numerous reasons–some of which help a case, some of which hurt. For example, if the stop of a car is the result of an officer witnessing extremely reckless driving, that would be bad, because this driving pattern may help explain to a jury that a driver’s normal faculties were impaired. Of course, it could also mean that he was having radio problems, or had just spilled his drink (non-alcoholic, of course).
What about a stop for a broken tail light? In such cases, there may be no real reason to pull over the car, as it is legal to drive with a broken tail light. So, when we show the court that there was no legal reason to stop the car in the first place (this challenge is called a motion to suppress), the subsequent DUI will be thrown out. Or, even if a judge finds that a car was stopped legally for a broken taillight, that basically means that the officer never saw the defendant drive with his faculties impaired! The officer saw a person driving perfect, but the car’s equipment was malfunctioning. Nothing impaired about that. If you’re driving normally, isn’t that proof greater proof that your faculties were not impaired versus standing on one leg for 30 seconds?
Another common citation which leads to a DUI charge is driving without headlights. Now, even though law enforcement may see a traffic citation happening right before their very eyes, the location of the infraction determines whether or not they have the right to stop the vehicle (can’t stop someone for speeding at the Daytona 500, obviously). A more down to earth example of just such an instance can be found in Nemeth v. State. 14 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 334b Nemeth was convicted of DUI after being pulled over for driving without headlights. He appealed, arguing that he never should have been pulled over in the first place, as he was driving on private property in an apartment complex. Sure, cops have the right to enforce traffic citations like this on a “street or highway”, but the appeals court found that the apartment complex parking lot did not meet that definition of being “open to use by the public”. As a matter of fact, most apartment complex parking lots put you on notice of just the opposite–that any unauthorized vehicle will be towed. Because the officer’s stop of Nemeth’s vehicle in the apartment complex parking lot was illegal, his DUI conviction was thrown out. For more details on this case, check out my article “Traffic Stops on Private Property can be Illegal.”
If you have been arrested for DUI and are now facing criminal charges, you need an attorney who will aggressively defend you against these charges in and out of court. We will explore every possible defense. We question if the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop you. Where the proper testing procedures followed? At the law offices of John P. Guidry, our clients know that they have an experienced DUI lawyer on their side.
Contact an Orlando DUI Attorney
If you have been arrested for DUI, contact an experienced Orlando DUI lawyer at the law offices of John P. Guidry for a free initial consultation. We can be reached by telephone, email, or by simply filling out the contact form. Thanks.