Myths About Equipment Violations And Florida DUI Stops
You already know that the penalties for violating Florida’s statute on driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), are harsh. You could face fines and jail time if convicted, plus you are looking at a lengthy driver’s license suspension that could severely impact your employment and personal freedoms. What you may not realize is that the relevant laws and legal concepts give law enforcement great leeway in conducting roadside stops. All officers need is reasonable suspicion to pull you over and probable cause to make an arrest.
However, the concepts of reasonable suspicion and probable cause can become murky when the basis of a roadside stop is an equipment violation. Misconceptions and bad information can impact your rights, so trust a Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyer to handle your case. It may also help to debunk some of the myths involved with drunk driving stops for faulty vehicle equipment.
Myth: Police cannot charge you with DUI for an equipment violation.
Officers are charged with protecting the public, so they will pull motorists over for breaking any type of traffic, vehicle, or equipment law. The trigger may be a driver speeding, running a red light, and – yes – an equipment violation. Some of the most common ways a drunk driving case starts is through a lack of a license plate, nonfunctioning headlight, or unlawfully tinted windows.
Myth: An equipment violation stop is limited to the infraction.
Once faulty equipment gives police a reason to pull you over, they have the authority to expand their investigation to determine the presence of unlawful criminal activity. As they are issuing a ticket, they may develop a reasonable suspicion that you have been drinking. Examples include slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and the smell of alcohol. At this point, officers may:
- Ask additional questions or engage you in conversation;
- Request that you perform field sobriety tests; or
- Conduct a roadside breathalyzer with a portable device.
If these or other factors take officers’ perceptions from reasonable suspicion over into probable cause, you could be arrested.
Myth: There is not much you can do once under arrest.
Being charged with DUI is just the beginning of the case, and there may be defenses when the arrest was linked to an equipment failure. Violations of these basic laws does not constitute impairment, so prosecutors need other evidence to establish that police had a reasonable suspicion that you were driving while drunk – as well as probable cause to make the arrest. If these factors are not present, you may have grounds for a motion to suppress all evidence stemming from the unlawful stop.
Myth: Retaining a South Florida drunk driving defense attorney will not help.
This is probably the most damaging misconception because of lost opportunities. There are numerous strategies for fighting DUI charges, and the outcome in your case depends upon your ability to develop them.
When you retain attorney Kevin J. Kulik, you can feel confident that we will take advantage of every potential defense. Please contact our Fort Lauderdale office today to set up a consultation, so we can get started right away.