If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence in Florida, your Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyer may, in some cases, be able to get your charges dismissed by demonstrating that the stop that led to your arrest was invalid, your chemical tests were administered improperly, or by some other reasoning. On the other hand, the easiest way to avoid DUI charges is to avoid driving after you drink.
However, even sober drivers get pulled over and charged with drunk driving, so it’s useful to know what kinds of markers the police are on the lookout for when they’re monitoring the roads for potential DUI offenders.
Why You May be Suspected of Driving Under the Influence
Four of the leading reasons a police officer may suspect you of driving under the influence in Florida are:
- Apparent difficulty staying in your lane or maintaining appropriate lane position – if you’re observed weaving in and out of lanes, drifting off the road or across the center line, making turns with a too-wide radius, or narrowly avoiding hitting another car on the road, a police officer may be likely to pull you over under suspicion intoxicated driving.
- Observed and intermittent braking and speeding – police officers are often on the lookout for drivers who inexplicably speed up and slow down, are unable to maintain a consistent speed and drive more than 10 miles below the posted speed limit. Naturally, excessive speeding will also get you noticed.
- Difficulty remaining vigilant, taking cues from the flow of traffic or traffic signals – law enforcement agents are likely to take notice of a driver who is slow to respond to changes in the flow of traffic or traffic signals, drives in the wrong lane, fails to turn on his or her headlights at night, doesn’t signal before changing lanes or signals without following through.
- Noticeably impaired judgment on the road – “judgment” is a vague term, and there are a number of ways that a police officer can pull you over for “poor judgment,” including following other vehicles too closely (tailgating), making unsafe lane changes or illegal turns, inappropriate or reckless driving behavior or reactions to other traffic, and driving off of the designated road or highway.
This is by no means an exhaustive or exclusive list, but it does cover most of the cornerstone issues involved in DUI stops. Many of these come down to the subjective judgment of the arresting officer; for instance, you may be weaving inside your own lane, or drift into another lane a couple of times without interfering with any other traffic when a police officer spots you and pulls you over.
However, in Florida, neither of these are grounds for the “reasonable suspicion” standard. The reasonable suspicion standard holds that a police officer must have a sound basis for believing, based on observable actions and available evidence before you’re pulled over, that a crime is being committed.
For this reason, among others, it’s important that you retain the services of a Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyer who will hold the prosecution accountable for meeting the burden of proof in demonstrating that the stop was legal and valid.