UNDERGOING A DIU INVESTIGATION
Submitted By: Marcia Giordano Hansen, Esq.
Visions of red flashing lights in a rear view mirror, accompanied by the sounds of a police siren invoke fear and loathing in many Miami drivers. A frustrating experience for those issued a ticket, but, life altering for those investigated and arrested for DUI. This article is a brief glimpse into a DUI investigation and the immediate penalties associated with a DUI arrest.
The tap of a flashlight on a window and its bright beam in a driver’s eyes is the usual, initial encounter associated with the beginning of a DUI investigation. Under pressure to provide the driver’s license, insurance card and registration, awkwardly fumbling through a wallet seems a natural reaction to a stressful situation. Yet, as this article reveals, drivers under suspicion to be DUI are not given the benefit of the doubt and any such fumbling is noted by the officer as one of the first signs of impairment. Once provided with the requested documents, the officer may ask his subject if he or she has been drinking and regardless of the response, the officer, 99% of the time, will note in the arrest affidavit that the subject responded with “slurred speech” and a “strong odor of an alcoholic beverage”. The fumble, the odor and the slurred speech inevitably requires an exit of the vehicle for further investigation.
Once out of the safe confines of the vehicle, the driver is asked to perform a series of standardized field sobriety tests, more commonly known as “roadsides”. These roadsides are certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and are referred to as the Walk and Turn, HGN and the One Leg Stand. Under the watchful eyes of the officer who, if not certified has called out another officer to the scene, the driver is expected to perform these three roadsides to perfection. The driver is not taken to another location to facilitate better performance. Rather, the roadsides are generally done on the side of the road and in the spotlight of not only flashlights but also headlights, red flashing patrol lights and the eyes of almost every rubber necker on the road. Despite the nerve wracking situation, points are deducted for raising one’s arms for balance in the One Leg Stand or for not touching heel to toe in the Walk and Turn. The driver’s bad leg, the three inch heels the driver might be wearing or the uneven surface are not taken into consideration as the cause for mistakes. For an officer, any mistakes made during these roadsides means that the driver’s normal faculties are impaired and that he or she is DUI.
After the roadsides, the driver is requested to give two blood alcohol level samples by blowing into a breathalyzer. If the driver refuses to give a sample, his or her license is administratively suspended for one year. If the driver blows a .08 or higher, the license is administratively suspended for six months. Whether refusing to blow or submitting two samples at or above the legal limit, the driver is then arrested for DUI. In Florida, a person under arrest for DUI will not be released from jail unless eight hours has passed, the driver’s blood-alcohol level is less than .05 or the driver’s normal faculties are no longer impaired.
The immediate penalties of losing one’s license and spending eight hours in jail, coupled with undergoing the experience of a DUI investigation can be truly life altering. The road ahead of a DUI arrestee brings its own set of challenges as well. However, a qualified attorney can attack any DUI brought before him or her by analyzing the legality of the stop, enlightening a jury to the unfairness of the roadsides and analyzing the inaccuracies of the breathalyzer machines. If you or anyone you know has been arrested for DUI, do not despair, your defense has just begun.
Marcia Giordano Hansen’s practice focuses on State and Federal criminal defense matters, as well as, civil litigation. Marcia can be contacted at The Hansen Law Firm at (305)-510-5565 or via e-mail at email@example.com. You may also visit her website: www.thehansenlawfirm.com. She is available 24/7 for any emergent matters and can accommodate Spanish and French speakers.
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