Can You Be Charged With DUI Without Evidence in Florida?

Can You Be Charged With DUI Without Evidence in Florida

In many arrests for driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida, police will make a stop due to a moving violation or reckless driving, suspect the motorist is intoxicated, and perform a field sobriety test (FST) to support the suspicion. Upon arrest, officers typically perform a blood alcohol content (BAC) test to provide clear evidence of the DUI. In clear DUI arrest situations, the defendant is clearly driving the vehicle, there is valid probable cause for a DUI, and there is evidence to prove it.

In other situations, Florida law enforcement agents may make a DUI arrest and press charges when the person is not behind the wheel of the vehicle. There are also cases where charges will be filed without obtaining a test for elevated BAC. Although these are examples of being charged for a DUI without evidence, or with limited evidence, the state may still decide to pursue a conviction.

For DUI arrests, the prosecution must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the defendant was both driving the vehicle and intoxicated enough by drugs and/or alcohol to convict. Not having sufficient evidence can be a major reason why a jury will not convict, but it can depend on other aspects of the case. If you believe you have been charged with DUI without evidence in Florida, you need qualified legal defense to ensure you are treated fairly under the law.

The following guide can help you better understand the evidence requirements of a DUI charge in Florida and some of the reasons why a law enforcement officer may make an arrest without fully meeting them.

Understanding the Evidence Requirements of a DUI Charge

There are several ways that officers in Florida can prove that the person being charged for a DUI was in fact driving the vehicle. For example, there will often be video evidence of the driving behaviors that led to the traffic stop and the arrest itself. Witness testimony of the officers, other bystanders, and even the driver can also be presented to show the person was driving the vehicle.

Under Florida Statutes, law enforcement can make a DUI arrest and charge if the person is shown to be in “operational control” or have access to the vehicle. Even if there is no evidence of driving. If the police arrive at the scene of an accident and the suspect is outside the vehicle, an arrest can be made if that person has keys, registration, insurance, or other means to show that they were likely the driver.

For proving intoxication and impairment, producing a BAC test above the legal limit of .08 is the most clear-cut evidence for a DUI charge. But there are some circumstances where law enforcement may provide other evidence of intoxication. This can include physical evidence such as an open container of alcohol or drugs in the vehicle.

FSTs such as the level gaze test, walking in a straight line, standing on one leg, and touching the nose are also admissible as evidence in court, although less reliable than a BAC test. Typically, law enforcement will use FST as grounds for arrest, where suspects must then undergo BAC testing or face additional penalties.

Cases vary, and there are many circumstances where an arrest and charges will be made without specific pieces of evidence.

An Experienced DUI Attorney Will Ensure Your Legal Rights Are Protected

A DUI charge is not a DUI conviction. Anyone arrested for DUI should receive comprehensive legal counsel to ensure a defense that fully protects their rights. In some cases, prosecutors in Florida will choose to pursue a DUI charge even if the police have not gathered sufficient evidence to prove the case beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Law enforcement has strict procedures and policies they must follow that are designed to protect the rights of citizens. A qualified and experienced defense team will know these restrictions and the ways that law enforcement knowingly and unknowingly bypasses them.

At Clark Hartpence Law, attorney Jeremy Clark was a public defender in the Sixth Judicial Circuit and fully understands the laws surrounding DUI. With his and our team’s extensive experience, we can respond effectively to the arguments the state of Florida typically uses in DUI cases, including ensuring that the prosecution has met all evidence requirements for the DUI charge. Contact us at (855) 680-4911 for your free consultation.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.