This weekend is a one of the busiest travel holidays for motorists visiting the Florida Keys. Having said that, there will be an increased police presence on the highways. Those planning to drive should remember their constitutional rights in the event they are stopped by a police officer or a Florida Highway Patrolmen. First, while consuming alcoholic beverages is not illegal, driving with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) over .08 is a presumption of impairment and will most definitely land the offender in jail.
If an officer suspects someone has been consuming alcohol by observing suspicious conditions such as glassy/watery eyes, slurred speech, odor of alcoholic beverage emanating from the breath or erratic driving behavior, he or she will ask them to submit to a breathalyzer test.
Unless the person submitting to a breathalyzer test has had zero alcoholic beverages, agreeing to blow into the breathalyzer is a risky proposition. Anyone who blows over .08 essentially self-convicts with regard to an underlying criminal case. Overcoming a DUI charge where a breathalyzer test was conducted and the result was over .08% is very difficult. However, refusing to submit to the test may result in other penalties including but not limited to loosing driving privileges for a year. While the thought of losing driving privileges for a year may seem quite daunting, it pales in comparison to the alternative of a positive breathalyzer result and it puts one in a much better position to defend the underlying criminal charge of DUI.
I’ve been asked the question, “What if it appears that the police officer won’t let me go?” The answer is easy: “Politely exercise your right to remain silent and request an attorney.” Also note, there is mostly likely a videotape recording of every move made and every word spoken during the interaction and, as they say in the movies “…it will be used against you in a court of law!”
So what’s the moral of the story? First, don’t drink and drive of course. Stay safe and arrive home alive. Second, know your rights if you happen to find yourself in a legal dilemma and as always, be sure to contact competent and experienced attorneys like those at the law firm of Hutchison & Tubiana to get properly advise of your rights.