Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that necessitates the hiring of a Jacksonville DUI lawyer. A DUI allegation indicates that an individual has been operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. To be accused of DUI, you don’t necessarily have to be driving the motor vehicle. Being behind the wheel of the vehicle, even if it is parked, can be enough to support a DUI allegation.
The intoxication portion of DUI is defined by a specific level of alcohol in the blood. This level varies from state to state, but is generally set at a 0.08 to 0.10% cut-off. Blood alcohol level can be tested in a couple of different ways. The most common method is through the use of a breathalyzer, which is a portable machine that estimates blood alcohol content based on a breath sample. A breathalyzer measures the amount of ethanol in one’s breath, and thus doesn’t measure blood alcohol directly. Instead, it estimates blood alcohol and thus is not the most accurate test that can be utilized.
Contesting the BAC
Breath alcohol content can be used as evidence in a court of law in the Florida. This is one reason why hiring a Jacksonville DUI attorney is important, as if there is breathalyzer evidence against you, you will need legal help in mounting a defense. One thing that is difficult to determine from a breathalyzer is how much time has passed since ingestion of alcohol and operation of a vehicle. Since different body types metabolize alcohol in a different manner, this metabolic rate may vary. However, some jurisdictions now allow juries to make inferences about time of consumption from breath alcohol content.
Often, if you are pulled over under suspicion of DUI, a police officer will administer a field sobriety test before a breathalyzer. A field sobriety test involves a series of tests of coordinated skills. In one portion of the test, the officer may put a pen or other object one foot away from an individual’s face. The officer will then move the object back and forth and see if the individual is able to follow it with his/her eye’s. Inability to do so can indicate intoxication. Also, an officer may ask you to take several steps, turn with your toe positioned adjacent to your heel, and take several steps back. In this case also, failure to perform the steps without faltering may indicate drunkenness. Other common tests include standing on one leg for a period of time or putting one’s finger to his or her nose. Failure in any of these tests provides an officer with reasonable suspicion for a DUI investigation.
For a truly accurate test, a police officer may request a measurement of alcohol levels in a driver’s blood. Blood alcohol content (BAC) can determine fairly accurately one’s level of intoxication. Even this measurement, however, is dependent upon the individual’s tolerance for alcohol. On a general scale, levels of .01-.03 don’t affect an individual’s outward appearance or actions. Over .06, however, can start to result in dis-inhibition and increased emotionality. Over .10 can cause serious changes in mood or behavior, and .30 or above can result in a loss of consciousness. DUI laws vary from state to state, but generally a BAC at or above 0.08-0.10 can result in a DUI charge.
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There are many reasons why someone might be pulled over on suspicion of DUI. To pull someone over, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion that they are involved in an illegal activity. Some indications a person is driving under the influence include: weaving, swerving, driving very slow or very fast, braking erratically, driving with their headlights off, etc. If pulled over for one of these reasons, a police officer will then look for signs from the driver that they have consumed alcohol. These included: slurred speech, red eyes, alcohol on the breath, not speaking intelligibly, etc. Additionally, if there are opened or unopened alcoholic beverages in the car, this would give an officer reasonable suspicion to believe the driver was drinking.
Calling a Law Firm from Jail
If a driver is arrested under suspicion of DUI, they will usually be taken to the police station and given a blood test. Even if the breathalyzer does not give results that indicate intoxication, an individual may still be held for observation based on an officer’s perception of their behavior. In either case (affirmed or suspected intoxication), a driver can be held in a cell until police decide they are no longer intoxicated. At this point, they may be released on bail or on one’s own recognizance, with a court date pending. If the individual is unable to make bail, they may have to remain in a holding cell or area until they are arraigned.
Arraignment involves the official lodging of the complaint against the defendant. It is at this point that a Jacksonville DUI lawyer would be especially beneficial. During the arraignment, the accused individual will have to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. A lawyer will help one to determine which plea would be more beneficial to enter. If the individual pleads not guilty, a judge will set a date for trial.
If you are arrested on suspicion of DUI and decide to go to trial, you will need the assistance of a lawyer. Trial law in the Florida is complex, and without the aid of an attorney, and a defendant can easily be confused into making inadequate choices or statements. Thus, a Jacksonville DUI lawyermay be an especially prudent choice for someone facing DUI conviction.
If you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI, you should avoid giving any information about your actual state of intoxication before speaking with a lawyer. A DUI lawyer may help you to understand your situation and the laws governing it. It may very well be the case that the one drink you had does not make you eligible for DUI prosecution. Thus, if you are pulled over for DUI in Florida, contact a Jacksonville DUI lawyer and employ them to help you; in the end it will be worth the small investment.
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