How to Beat a DUI Charge in Florida

How to Beat a DUI Charge in Florida

While many arrests for driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida are valid and for the good of public safety, a significant number occur under questionable circumstances. Like any criminal law, the procedures and requirements that law enforcement officers must follow for DUI are stringent in order to prevent false convictions. Despite this, in a large percentage of DUI arrests, charges are either reduced or dismissed altogether.

In some cases, this is because of leniency, but it can also be related to procedural mistakes, lack of evidence, or any other number of oversights that a defense attorney can identify.

If you have been arrested for a DUI, it does not have to mean you will be convicted. Legal representation with a deep background in DUI defense will know how to question and investigate law enforcement and prosecution at every step of the way. The experienced team at Clark Hartpence Law knows the strategies that police and prosecutors commonly employ and have been helping defendants beat or reduce DUI charges for years.

The following guide explains some of the most frequent ways we have seen defendants beat a DUI in Florida.

25 Proven Ways to Beat or Reduce DUI Charges in Florida

Each DUI charge is different and requires an experienced defense attorney to fully investigate the circumstances of your arrest and the facts of your case. This list describes some of the primary reasons that a DUI charge can be reduced or even dismissed entirely in court:

1. First-time offense

Penalties for a first-time DUI offense are lower than subsequent DUI arrests and convictions. In many situations, judges may be more lenient on a first-time DUI charge and prosecutors may agree to a reduced charge.

2. Processing errors

The procedures around a DUI arrest are strict and there are many ways that law enforcement can make mistakes and errors. These errors can potentially distort the facts surrounding the case and make it impossible to convict beyond a shadow of a doubt.

3. Lack of property damage

DUI related to a vehicle collision or property damage can have a major impact on the severity of penalties and even conviction. Combined with other circumstances of the case, attorneys may be able to get charges reduced or dismissed when there is no property damage.

4. Lack of injury

The harshest DUI penalties involve vehicular manslaughter or bodily injury to other motorists and passengers. Like lack of property damage, cases without injury will often result in reduced penalties, if not charge reduction or dismissal.

5. “Wet reckless”

If the prosecution does not have a strong case around the DUI charge, they may attempt to plea bargain the DUI to reckless driving involving alcohol or illicit substances, also known as a “wet reckless” charge. This often comes with reduced penalties and fines compared to DUI.

6. Illegal traffic stop

For a traffic stop that leads to a DUI arrest, the law enforcement agent must be able to definitively prove that the driver was committing a moving violation. Your DUI attorney should know how to thoroughly question the police and determine if the traffic stop was truly legal.

7. Failure to prove driving

In Florida, laws make it easier for the police to make an arrest of a suspected drunk driver who is not in the vehicle or driving the vehicle when they arrive on the scene. It still needs to be proven that the person arrested for DUI was the driver, which can be more difficult in certain situations.

8. Involuntary BAC test

Although there are penalties for refusing a blood alcohol content (BAC) test if convicted of a DUI, police are still required to ensure the test is conducted on a voluntary basis. Any insinuation that the officer told the defendant that they “had to take the breathalyzer test” or that it was not voluntary could be grounds for dismissal.

9. Inaccurate BAC test

From recording the test improperly to a poorly calibrated machine, any inconsistencies with a breathalyzer or other form of BAC test can weaken the prosecution’s case.

10. Non-functioning breathalyzer

DUI attorneys should always fully investigate the functional status of the equipment used to obtain the BAC result. Any indication that the machine was not working properly could be grounds for beating a DUI charge.

11. Lack of or no probable cause

The burden of proof is on the police to show probable cause for arrest, especially on suspicion of DUI. From the traffic stop itself to indicators of being intoxicated, there are many opportunities for gaps in evidence.

12. DUI on private property

In many cases, it is not a DUI offense if the driving took place on private property. The stop must be made on a public road.

13. Racial profiling

Any evidence or suspicion that the police officer made a stop based on racial profiling could invalidate the DUI charge or seriously weaken the case.

14. Other profiling

From profiling based on age or gender to targeting a specific activity or location, any type of profiling can be grounds for DUI dismissal.

15. Jurisdictional issues

Police can only arrest in their legal jurisdiction. In a case where there is a cooperative arrangement between agencies that led to an arrest, attorneys should always verify if that arrangement is still current and valid.

16. Nonstandard field sobriety testing

Field sobriety testing (FST) is generally conducted to establish probable cause for a DUI arrest and officers will typically have strict guidelines on which tests can establish probable cause for DUI. Performing nonstandard tests can potentially lead to invalidation of the arrest.

17. Inaccurate or involuntary field sobriety testing

Law enforcement must also perform and record FSTs properly and accurately on a voluntary participant. Performing these tests in an intimidating, confusing, or misleading manner is a tactic used by some officers to expedite an arrest.

18. Field sobriety test on fatigued or incapacitated driver

There are reasons to fail an FST beyond DUI. If the driver was fatigued, injured, or incapacitated in any way not involving drugs or alcohol it can put the circumstances of the FST into question.

19. Failure to uphold BAC observation period

Police must be in continuous observance of the suspect prior to performing a BAC, if it can be proven the police were not supervising the suspect, then the BAC test may be invalid.

20. Video contradicts police testimony

DUI attorneys should look for any inconsistency between video evidence and police testimony to determine if the arrest and charges are truly legal.

21. Contradictory witness testimony

Similarly, any reliable witness or witnesses that contradict police testimony can put the facts of the DUI arrest under question.

22. Illegal or nonstandard DUI checkpoint or roadblock

Although legal in Florida, DUI checkpoints must be set up in a specific way to protect the rights of motorists and not be a dragnet. Your attorney should always investigate the specifics of the DUI checkpoint or roadblock to ensure it was created fairly and properly.

23. BAC over limit due to post arrest alcohol absorption

Police must prove that BAC was over the legal limit in Florida of .08 at the time of the stop for a DUI to be valid. In some cases, BAC can be elevated between arrest and testing due to metabolism or even alcohol consumption at the scene of an accident or stop.

24. Anonymous reporting of DUI

The police must personally observe probable cause to make a traffic stop that leads to a DUI arrest. An anonymous tip made about drunk driving is not sufficient grounds for a stop.

25. Inaccurate reporting of failure to maintain single lane

Swerving within a lane is one example of questionable but not illegal driving. Law enforcement must have documented evidence of the inability to maintain a single lane.

Once again, if you’ve been arrested for DUI, it does not mean you will be convicted. A DUI attorney should be fighting to ensure your rights are being preserved under the law by interviewing police and witnesses and investigating the circumstances of the arrest, including FSTs, BAC tests, and all reporting.

How the Right Attorney Can Help You Beat A DUI Charge in Florida

Clark Hartpence Law attorney Jeremy Clark spent time as a public defender in the Sixth Judicial Circuit, this means he fully understands the laws surrounding a Florida DUI charge. With his and our team’s extensive experience, we can respond effectively to the arguments the state of Florida typically uses in DUI cases. If you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI we can thoroughly review your case to ensure the arrest and charges are valid under the law.

Contact us today at (855) 680-4911 for your free consultation.

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