Fort Myers, FL – After someone has been stopped for a traffic infraction, they may be investigated for drunk driving as well. Police receive training regarding how intoxicated drivers appear and behave, and noticing these signs will give probable cause to contact a DUI certified officer and begin an investigation.
Indicators of impairment
When police notice certain behaviors that may lead them to believe that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they call these indicators of impairment. Under Florida law, they will generally look for at least three different signs before asking the suspect to step out of their vehicle. These indicators can include bloodshot eyes, the smell of alcohol, the driving pattern before the stop, slurred or mumbled speech, the presence of open containers or drug paraphernalia in the vehicle, and admissions regarding where the person was driving away from.
After suspecting a driver of being intoxicated
The officer usually orders the suspect to secure their vehicle and step out of the car. They are asked to complete field sobriety exercises on the scene to test their physical abilities to follow instructions and complete certain movements. Based on their performance on the exercises and their behavior and demeanor, the officer may choose to make an arrest. In Florida, there is no chemical test for the presence of drugs or alcohol until the person is already under arrest and transported to a police station that has the proper equipment for a test of breath, blood, or urine.
Problems with this kind of investigation
Over the years, defense lawyers have found a number of problems with these procedures for finding and prosecuting intoxicated drivers. There may be innocent explanations for a person’s appearance, such as being tired or working around chemicals with certain smells that are similar to alcohol. Field sobriety exercises are often conducted on a poorly lit roadside with little room for the suspect to move around freely and without obstructions. Some individuals may not even have the athletic ability to complete the exercises even if they are totally sober. There have also been situations where innocent individuals have been arrested because there is no chemical test until after the arrest, and the suspect is not released even if their chemical test shows no alcohol or drugs in their body.
Preparing a defense against DUI charges in Florida
Michael Raheb is an experienced DUI defense attorney who practices in Fort Myers. After an arrest, a driver who is facing criminal charges can contact the firm to learn more about how his office can help with plea negotiations or representation at trial.
Firm contact info:
2423 First Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901