People are always wondering what their rights are when it comes to being stopped by Law Enforcement especially if they have consumed alcohol. Though many people feel that it is illegal to drink and drive an automobile in the State of Florida, they are incorrect.
So What Does the Law Allow?
Florida law allows one to consume alcohol and drive as long as ones normal faculties are not impaired. Normal Faculties is simply a fancy term for the ability to: walk, talk, see, hear, comprehend, drive an automobile, act in emergencies and perform the everyday physical and mental tasks, which are required in our daily lives.
The way for police to determine if ones Normal Faculties are impaired is by taking into account the TOTALITY of Circumstances which is everything they observe and don’t observe…the total of their encounter. Once an officer detects an odor of alcohol it is usually followed by the question “Have you been drinking tonight?”
Again it is not illegal per se to drink and drive however the officer needs REASONABLE SUSPICION that the driver is impaired in order to conduct field sobriety exercises.
Types of Field Sobriety Exercises
Field sobriety exercises are divided attention exercises which tests these Normal Faculties discussed above. Typically these exercises consist of:
- Walk and Turn
- 1 Leg Balance
- Rhomberg alphabet
- HGN eye exercise
REMEMBER these exercises are voluntary and there are a number of factors which could cause one to perform poorly. Nervousness and prior injuries are a couple of the many factors which could cause someone to perform poorly on these exercises.
To be convicted of DUI in FL, the State must prove:
- Actual/physical control of a vehicle and
- While operating a vehicle the Defendant was under the influence of alcohol to the extent that his NORMAL FACULTIES were impaired.
It is NOT illegal to consume alcohol and drive a vehicle. It is only illegal to operate a vehicle while your normal faculties are impaired.
DUI Tip of the week
- Opt out of field sobriety exercises, they are VOLUNTARY.
- Remain silent. Don’t answer any questions until you’ve spoken with an attorney at Fusco Law
- Call Fusco Law before submitting to a breath test at the jail.
Keep in mind you are likely being recorded on the ride to the jail. Everything you say will be used against you. Be smart and invoke your right to remain silent.