Monday, April 1, 2013

What If I Haven't Been Drinking and I Get Pulled Over?

A question that I often get from my clients is, “If I haven’t been drinking, can I actually be convicted for driving under the influence?”  The answer to that is yes. If you have not consumed alcohol, however, your DUI investigation by an officer may go a bit differently than if you have. When an officer stops an individual under suspicion of driving under the influence, they'll typically ask that individual to complete some roadside exercises, and based on their performance of those exercises, the officer will then request a breath test to be submitted by the defendant or the person they have arrested.
If the officer then finds that the person has done poorly in the officer's sole discretion on the roadside exercises, but then blows all zeros on the blood alcohol breath test (meaning that they haven't consumed any alcohol), then typically the officer will say, “Well, I still believe you're impaired, but it's clearly not alcohol, so I believe that you're under the influence of drugs."
When an officer makes this kind of statement, then the next thing that happens is the  person is then asked to submit to a urine test. This is entirely discretionary on the part of the defendant. They can refuse the urine test, just as they could a breath test, just as they could the roadside exercises. And if a urine test is in fact provided, and any substances that are either illegal or intoxicating are found in that person's system, the state can then proceed to charge that person with a DUI based on those urine test results and the testimony of the officer.
Many people also ask, "Can they take my blood?" In Florida, a blood test for the presence of alcohol or drugs is only allowed in cases where there is a serious injury to another motorist or to the defendant themselves, in the course of what the officer believes to be driving under the influence. If the officer is to take a blood test from you, unfortunately, this cannot be refused. This is a matter of law permitted, and any results that they find can then be used against you in a subsequent prosecution.
A hallmark of our practice has been that I encourage my clients to not think of our representation nearly as a case by case representation, but a starting point for all of their legal needs. Whether the initial representation under my firm was for a business transaction, a criminal law matter, an entertainment law issue, I encourage my clients to maintain contact with me as a starting point for any of their legal needs. Should there be a case that's outside of the scope of what my firm handles, I endeavor to place them in the best hands that I know of specializing in that area of law. Through these efforts, we strive to provide representation solutions in a wide and diverse area of law so that our clients can keep coming back to us again and again.
You may also be interested in reading a related post entitled, Consequences of Underage Drinking and DUIs.

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