Police in Fort Walton Beach, Destin and throughout Okaloosa County and Walton County, often make three common mistakes during a traffic stop targeting DUI.
- Is admitting to having a couple drinks is enough for a police officer to find probable cause for a DUI arrest?
- Is the smell or odor of alcohol alone enough to legally arrest someone for DUI?
- Can someone be legally arrested for DUI for simply refusing to cooperate with the police investigation?
The answer to all three questions is a resounding “NO!” But unfortunately, police officers make mistakes and often these mistakes happen because they lose their objectivity during the initial DUI investigation, which almost always leads to a DUI arrest based on the officer’s warped perception of “driver impairment.”
In the end, these cases are often difficult to prove for the State prosecutor and are usually reduced or dismissed, but the arrest still stings.
Police make faulty assumptions based on a driving error, or a poorly negotiated turn, or a report of a suspected driver from dispatch or 911 call. Once they make contact, it is a matter of self-fulfilling prophesy.
The officer thinks, “They must be DUI.” So everything that happens after the stop only reinforces that assumption whether right or wrong. In my practice, I have seen many people arrested and charged with DUI purely because of a small driving error which led to a traffic stop coupled with the driver being uncooperative with the DUI investigation.
Just because you refuse to answer their questions, it does not give them to right to form the basis for a DUI arrest. Just because you refuse to do field sobriety tests or refuse the breath test, it does not mean that you are DUI. The way to fight against this is to hire an experienced DUI attorney to legally challenge the DUI arrest.
Since the burden of proof is squarely on the prosecution, the lack of evidence cannot be used against you, but rather, in the jury instructions for any criminal case, including DUI, it is specifically referenced as a basis for finding reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt can be found through the evidence, the lack of evidence, or conflicts in the evidence….requires a verdict or NOT GUILTY.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Fort Walton Beach, Destin or elswhere in Okaloosa County or Walton County, give me a call at (850) 362-6655 and tell me what happened….then I’ll give you an opinion on where you stand and what I may be able to do.