Defending a DUI in Palm Beach County is challenging work. The State Attorney takes these charges very seriously. You need an attorney who understands how the State builds its case and more importantly how to knock their case down. For the State to convict you of DUI, it must prove two elements of the crime:
1) You drove or were in actual control of the vehicle, and
2) You were under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, a chemical substance listed in Fla. Stat. 877.111 or a controlled substance, which caused you to be impaired or your blood alcohol level was .08 or higher.
Simply put, the State must prove that you were driving the car and that you were impaired/drunk.
Defense of the traffic stop in the first place:
We live in country of laws not a police state. Police officers cannot pull you over because they saw you leaving a bar or because it's Tuesday. For a police officer to pull you over, he/she must have specific reasons for pulling you over. These can be speeding, running a red light, or weaving in and out of your lane causing a danger to traffic. The police officer cannot pull you over because you weave inside of your own lane. You could have been answering a phone call or putting on lipstick - it does not matter. If the police officer pulled you over without just cause your attorney can have the stop thrown out. That means all the evidence they collected subsequent is gone: you dancing and singing the alphabet, and your .217 BAC on the machine is all gone. This is where having an attorney who recognizes the weakness of the case can make all the difference.
Defense for control of a car:
Proving control of the vehicle is usually not the hardest part of the State’s case. In most DUI cases the driver is pulled over for a traffic stop and is behind the wheel. This defense comes up more frequently in a crash-related DUI. Say you wrap your car around a tree in a single car accident. If you are out of the car before anyone arrives then the State is going to have a hard time proving you were driving the car unless you tell them you were driving.
This defense comes up in BUIs (Boating Under the Influence) as well in non-crash related cases. You and your friends are out on the water in a center console boat. More than one person is standing near the wheel. If the police want to arrest you and charge you with DUI they have to be able to prove that you were the one in control of the boat and not merely a passenger since there is no driver’s seat. To make the most of this defense you need to speak to a Palm Beach County Criminal Defense Attorney immediately after your arrest.
Defense for being impaired:
The most difficult cases for the State to prove are cases when the driver does not submit to a breath test. Without the breath test the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt (remember that the State has the burden of proof the defendant does not have to prove anything) that the defendant’s normal faculties were impaired to the extent that they could not operate a motor vehicle on the roads of Palm Beach County safely.
To do this the State will use any Field Sobriety Exercises that you performed: walk in a straight line, say the alphabet, stand still with one foot off the ground, etc. They use these tests to prove you are impaired because you did not perform them perfectly. NO ONE CAN perform them perfectly except maybe the DUI officer. These exercises are designed to make you fail. They are complicated, and the officer administering the test is writing down everything you do wrong. Miss the letter “U” FAIL, say it too slowly FAIL, stutter FAIL. These exercises are hard, and you do not have to do them. If the police officer asks you to perform field sobriety exercises, you are within your legal rights to say "no." Do it politely, though. There’s no need to be rude, but remember you don’t have to do them. If the State does not have field sobriety exercises or your breath sample, they are left with only the testimony of the police officer, and the videos of you driving and in the police station. Be polite, don’t run off at the mouth, and contact your attorney as soon as you are released.