How Police Questioning Can Lead to an Arrest for DUI in Florida
If a Florida law enforcement officer pulls you over on suspicion of drunk driving, you can expect him or her to pose numerous questions regarding your circumstances. Some of these inquiries may seem friendly, and as if police are simply trying to make conversation as you’re gathering your driver’s license and vehicle registration. However, officers typically have a specific intent behind their questions: Police want you to say something that incriminates you, so they have grounds to arrest you for DUI now – and so prosecutors have sufficient proof to get a conviction in court later.
Because you’re probably nervous during the stop, you might be tempted to answer these questions. You should avoid this urge at all costs, and a Florida DUI defense lawyer can explain why in more detail. It’s also helpful to review some general information on how police questioning can turn into an arrest for drunk driving.
Your Rights During a DUI Stop: You have certain civil liberties when pulled over for drunk driving, which come from case precedent interpreting the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution; the Florida Constitutional contains similar protections. Specifically, the US Supreme Court issued an opinion regarding these matters in the 1979 case of Delaware v. Prouse. In their decision, the Justices found that police can only stop you if they have an articulable, reasonable suspicion that you’re violating Florida drunk driving laws. Officers cannot act on a hunch; they need to observe some action to form the basis of their suspicion.
Be Aware of Seemingly Innocent Questioning: Assuming they do have a reasonable suspicion to pull you over for drunk driving, police need probable cause to make an arrest. This standard is slightly higher, requiring more proof that a crime is being committed. Officers may directly ask whether you’ve been drinking, but they may be more stealth in getting this information from you. You may hear such questions as:
- Where are you headed to or coming from?
- What have you been up to the last few hours?
- How long have you been driving?
- Are you on any medications?
These and related inquiries may seem harmless, but in answering open-ended questions, you could reveal too much.
Exercise Your Rights: Instead of putting your interests at risk by responding to questions by officers, your best strategy is to politely decline. Beyond providing your driver’s license and vehicle information, you have the right to remain silent under another key constitutional law: The Fifth Amendment. Police cannot force you to answer, but they may be very persuasive in trying to get you to talk. Be firm in your position and refuse to provide any statements.
Trust a Florida DUI Defense Attorney to Protect Your Rights
Besides your constitutional right to remain silent, you’re also entitled to retain a lawyer to represent you in connection with criminal charges for drunk driving in Florida. To learn more about your defense strategies and legal options, please contact Fort Lauderdale DUI attorney Kevin J. Kulik. We can schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case.