Before we dive into, allow me to point out the obvious: Don’t drink and drive! Avoiding a DUI arrest is the best defense. Prevention is key. Keep in mind that calling a taxi, Uber, a friend or even walking home will prevent you from putting yourself and others in serious danger.
With that in mind, we all make mistakes. Drinking and driving in the State of Florida is illegal and can either be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. If you find yourself behind the wheel while intoxicated, you are opening yourself up to not just physical dangers but also criminal liability.
If you are stopped while drinking and driving, keep these 5 things in mind:
- Pull Over Quickly And Stay In Your Car – As soon as you see lights, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so. You’re driving has already alerted law enforcement that something may be wrong. Move to the side of the road and place your car in park. Once parked, shut your car off and keep your hands on the wheel. Wait for the officer to approach you. Do not get out of the car until you are told to do so.
- Be Polite To Law Enforcement – Be polite to the officer. Being rude or disrespectful is only going to hurt your case. We get it, getting pulled over and facing a DUI can be scary and embarrassing. On the same note, being polite does not mean being cooperative with their criminal investigation.
- You CAN Invoke Your 5th Amendment Rights – While I ALWAYS recommend being respectful and polite to the law enforcement it is important to remember that you have a Constitutional right against self-incrimination. The 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution gives us all the right to remain silent. In other words, keep your mouth shut and do not snitch on yourself. Remember, you do not have to cooperate with a criminal investigation. Keep in mind, a refusal comes with AUTOMATIC penalties.
- Understand that Being Candid Most Likely Won’t Help You – Law enforcement obviously will be able to articulate a reason for pulling you over so insisting that you had “just one mixed drink” probably won’t get you very far. I can’t tell you how many of my clients (past and present) tell the investigating officer they “only had one (or two)”. Telling the police you have been drinking, no matter the amount, is not going to help you. This only adds fuel to the fire for their investigation. This is what we call an admission. An admission never helps your case. While there are ways to suppress these statements, do yourself a favor and do not make them to begin with. You do not need to comply with questions past your name, address and any attempt to identify you. You do not need to offer any unnecessary information concerning where you came from, who you were with, and how many drinks you have consumed.
- Stay Calm When Getting Arrested – Even if you follow all of these steps, chances are you are still going to get arrested for driving under the influence. Once the investigation begins, the police are just gathering evidence through their observations in order to get the conviction in court. Being put into police custody, especially if you are still drunk, can be a scary experience but staying calm is a must. Respectfully request legal representation when speaking with the police, and remember, anything you say can and will be used against you in court.