Getting pulled over by a police officer for suspected driving under the influence (DUI) can be stressful and intimidating. In fact, a DUI arrest may be the first experience that some people have with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Moreover, most drivers do not understand their legal rights or the standards that must be met before an officer can conduct a traffic stop or arrest. If you have been arrested for a DUI offense, however, hiring a St. Petersburg DUI lawyer can make a difference. The attorneys at Blake & Dorsten, P.A., can protect the rights of drivers and challenge an illegal police stop or arrest when appropriate. We strive to help our clients during every phase of a case in order to defeat the charges arising from a DUI.Overview of a Florida DUI Arrest
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a criminal offense that may lead to a warrantless arrest. In Florida, a person commits a DUI when they drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more, a per se amount of drugs in their system, or any amount of alcohol and/or a controlled substance that impairs their normal faculties. In many cases, a DUI arises out of a traffic stop conducted by a law enforcement officer. Therefore, it is important to note that the police do not have the authority to pull over or place drivers under arrest without a legitimate reason. There are legal standards for both traffic stops and a warrantless arrest.Grounds for a DUI Stop
To stop a driver on the road, a police officer must have a reasonable suspicion that the driver has broken the law. With respect to DUI stops, an officer may pull over a driver whom they reasonably suspect is impaired by alcohol or drugs. Grounds for reasonable suspicion of a DUI offense may include abruptly swerving between lanes, drifting on and off the shoulder of the road, traveling at an erratic rate of speed, failing to obey or respond to traffic signals, and other erratic behavior. However, in some cases, a driver may be pulled over for an ordinary traffic violation, such as speeding or driving without headlights on at night. After observing and speaking with a driver of a car, the police officer may reasonably believe that the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.Probable Cause for Arrest
To arrest someone for drunk or drugged driving, a law enforcement officer must have probable cause that the person committed a DUI. It should be noted, probable cause requires more than a reasonable suspicion. After pulling over a suspected drunk driver, an officer may look for indications that the driver has been drinking or taking drugs. Slurred speech, red and watery eyes, difficulty understanding or responding to basic questions, and lack of coordination are common signs of intoxication. The police officer may also evaluate the driver’s ability to perform field sobriety tests and request a breath test. The observations and evidence collected during the traffic stop may give the officer probable cause for an arrest. As a general rule, evidence obtained from unconstitutional traffic stops and arrests may not be used to convict a person of a crime. A DUI lawyer can look into the facts and circumstances of a DUI arrest to determine whether the driver’s constitutional rights were violated.Retain a St. Petersburg Lawyer
A skilled DUI attorney can help you defend against the prosecution after an arrest for drunk or drugged driving. At Blake & Dorsten, P.A., we represent people who have been arrested for DUI, theft, drug crimes, and many other misdemeanor or felony offenses. We serve residents of Pinellas County, particularly those located in Tampa Bay, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg. Schedule a free consultation by calling 727-286-6141 or contacting Blake & Dorsten online.