EVALUATING YOUR DUI CASE
Let us review with you not only the DUI laws but your case and the facts of your case specifically. The first step in any evaluation is to explore possible defenses and legal issues on the legality of a stop and admissibility of evidence such as a breath or blood test.
THE STOP OR FIRST CONTACT———-4th AMENDMENT CHALLENGES
The first thing to look at in a DUI case is the stop or how the officer made contact with someone. A law enforcement officer must have a stated legal ground to stop your vehicle. This is often referred to as a ‘founded suspicion. Sometimes an officer may believe that what he or she calls a ‘driving pattern’ justifies a stop, when often, they may not be correct. That type of stop can be challenged and if you win the challenge then all other evidence after the stop is suppressed, and becomes inadmissible. That could result in the DUI being dismissed. So, we always start there.
- Challenging the stop
- Suppressing the evidence
- Challenging the breath test
An experienced Florida DUI attorney will be familiar with the extensive state and federal case law and rulings regarding stop and approach issues.
THE BREATH TEST IS A SEARCH
A breath test is legally a search. There are specific statutes and procedures that must be specifically adhered to regarding offering the breath test as well as procedures and rules about the taking of a breath test, blood test, or urine test. If these procedures are not strictly followed, the results of any these tests may not be admissible in court. Florida has what is called an implied consent law. The law says that when you drive a vehicle it is legally implied that you have consented to a breath test, if the officer has cause to believe that you are driving under the influence. However, you do have the ability to refuse or decline this test. Under certain circumstances, an officer may also request a urine test. This is most often for the detection of controlled substances or chemicals. There are regulations and statutes that apply to urine testing in regards to the manner of this request and the admissibility of the results.
- FREE DUI Consultation – Please feel free to contact us with a description of your needs, all initial consultations are free
Additional Issues with Accident Cases
BLOOD WITHDRAWAL DEFENSES
If you were involved in an accident and either you or another person were taken to the hospital there are procedures and laws which must be followed by law enforcement in either requesting breath, or blood at a hospital. The fourth amendment regarding illegal searches and seizures applies to blood being drawn. If there are serious personal injuries an officer may be able to take your blood even without your consent. If the injuries are not serious by legal standards, then a person has to give valid uncoerced consent. There are many issues that arise regarding consent and willfulness that we will want to discuss with you. Come in for a consultation and we will get into more depth on that with you.
If it is impractical or impossible to administer breath test when someone has been transported to a hospital an officer may be able to request blood as an alternative. Over the years there have been many appellate cases and local cases on how this can be done legally and how it can not be done. We have filed and won many motions when an officer illegally or improperly requests a blood test. There are several ways that this can occur. On some occasions the state attorney may make a request for hospital records. Notice must be given to the patient before records can be released by the hospital and your attorney has an opportunity to object to these records. If you have had blood drawn, talk with us about your particular circumstances.
There are two ‘types’ of blood we refer to in a DUI case. Hospital blood, blood drawn by medical personnel for treatment purposes is treated differently from ‘legal’ blood drawn at the request of law enforcement. Never assume that you have no defenses to a blood or breath reading that may be high. It is important to discuss all of these matters thoroughly with us. Each case is different. Your discussions with us are confidential.
If procedures were not properly followed or there are other grounds on which we are able to file a motion, the breath, blood, or urine test may become inadmissible. Motions can be filed and if they are granted a large part of the state’s case could become inadmissible. Obviously, this can greatly affect the viability of your charges and the possible disposition or outcome.
The state of Florida uses the Intoxilyzer 8000. This is manufactured by a company called CMI. Intoxilyzer records are public records under Florida law. We will get access to intoxilyzer maintenance records, repair records, inspection records, correspondence, and other vital information regarding the breath testing machine which was used in your case. Challenges may arise because of issues or problems with the individual machine, how it is maintained, the room in which is kept, proper forms, and the operator.
Blood tests are used mostly an accident cases. However, a person can request a blood test after they have been given a breath test. They are most often not advised of this right by a police officer. When a blood test is sought to be used there are many things which must be explored by your attorney. If it is a “legal” blood draw, the officer must use a prepackaged kit with certain coagulants already contained in the tube. A blood draw must be done by a specifically licensed person and only under certain conditions which are specifically set forth in Florida statutes. A hospital draw, or medical blood, is normally of serum blood, and serum blood may provide a recorded value differently from a breath test comparison. These are matters which must be explored by your DUI defense attorney as well as the chain of custody and testing procedures in order to see if there are any motions regarding the admissibility or use a blood test. If it is helpful to your case we have access to expert toxicologists and medical doctors experienced in this field that we consult with and which can be listed as defense witnesses.
Often, in an accident case, the only evidence of impairment sought to be introduced by the state may be a blood test. Experience in these types of cases is important to you. Larry Sandefer is well respected as a DUI defense attorney and highly experienced in handling all types of DUI cases.
ALREADY EXPELLED FROM THE SYSTEM OR IN THE SYSTEM
Urine tests may be requested if a breath alcohol test is law enforcement officer has reason to believe the person may be under the influence of a controlled substance and your breath test is lower than what the officer believes it should be for his opinion of the level of intoxication. Urine tests provide an analysis of substances which are already in the urine were once in the blood. Some of these substances have been processed and only metabolites are present. Expert consultation is valuable in determining whether it is possible to determine if the substances were even actually in the blood at the time of driving, or if it had been processed out already. We need to evaluate if the quantity or type of drug were sufficient to cause a physical impairment. We often consult with experts on our cases to assist in deciding what to do.
A valid prescription for a substance is not a defense to a ‘DUI by controlled substance’ offense. Different substances will remain is a person’s system longer that other controlled substances. For example, cocaine can remain from 12 hours up to 3 days while benzodiazepines can remain up to 3 weeks depending on long term use. Some substances have a half life of a matter of hours and the value of results showing presence of these substances may be subject to challenge. We have access to and consult with chemical experts and doctors regarding these issues which may be of importance to you and your case.
Field sobriety exercises
VIDEO or body cams
Most often when a person is suspected of DUI the officer requests them to take field sobriety exercises. This is usually done at the roadside but sometimes is done at the jail or police station. It is a series of ‘dexterity’ exercises which the police are taught to use to gather evidence of what they believe to be impairment due to alcohol or drugs. It is not the impartial evaluation that you are led to believe. You do not have to agree to these exercises, but if the officer advises you that a refusal to take them can be used against you in court, then your refusal can be used in court.
Most often the exercises given include the walk and turn test and the one leg stand. Other exercises may include the finger to nose and the alphabet exam. Of course, everyone has different levels of physical dexterity and balance. Similarly, due to age or weight certain people may have difficulty with physical dexterity exercises. In fact, the training manual used by most law enforcement agencies informs officers that alternate tests should be performed for people with physical or weight problems. If officers do not do this, the use of these exercises can be challenged. An experienced DUI defense attorney will be experienced in the cross examination of the state’s witnesses and police officers. We can get access to and obtained copy of any videotapes made of roadside sobriety exercises. We will review those with you and compare them to other evidence or witnesses in the case. Use of videos may be limited because of other traffic in the area, lighting, or the manner in which the exercise was performed. These are matters which we will discuss thoroughly with you and going over your case.
HORIZONTAL GAZE NYSTAGMUS (HGN) EYE TEST
Most officers will ask you to let them check your eyes to “see if you are okay to drive a vehicle.” You are already a suspect. You do not have to agree to that ‘test’ either but failure to agree can be brought up in court. That too can be challenged and depends on the individual circumstances in your case. We will want to talk to you about eye problems or issues you may have and other things that can affect the HGN test other than alcohol.
Contact Florida DUI Traffic Lawyers
Larry Sandefer – Drunk Driving Defense Attorney & DUI Defense Lawyer
OTHER DUI DEFENSE TOPICS TO EXPLORE
Other Types of DUI Accusations – Many DUI cases involve the accusation of impairment due to drug ingestion. Not only are we experienced in this area, we have access to experts including renowned chemists to review your case and offer testimony if necessary.
- Felony DUI & DUI with Serious Injuries – A DUI can become a felony if it is the third DUI conviction and the previous conviction is within 10 years. A fourth DUI conviction is also classified as a felony.
- DUI Manslaughter – A DUI MANSLAUGHTER occurs when there is a death of a human being caused or contributed to by a person who is driving under the influence to the extent his or her normal faculties are impaired.
- Possible Penalties for DUI – Penalties for DUI can increase if a person has any prior convictions for driving under the influence. The number of convictions, when they occurred, and even whether you were represented can have dramatic affects on your license and penalties.
- Traffic DUI Law – Arrested for a Florida Traffic DUI? In Florida, if you have been arrested for DUI and your breath test result was .08 or higher, or if you refused to take the breath test, the officer probably took your driver’s license from you.
- Florida DUI Developments – Larry Sandefer attends valuable programs locally and nationally such as “Masters of DUI”, “Blood, Breath and Tears”, as well as the National DUI Conference put on by the National College of DUI Defense
- FREE DUI Case Evaluation – Contact us today for a Free Florida DUI Case Evaluation.
Pinellas County DUI Attorney