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Whether you have been charged with a DUI, or you are simply looking to learn more about DUI law, you can read more about how we can help you here.

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A Closer Look at the Police Stop

You do not want a traffic violation and some poor decisions to land you an undeserved DUI charge. Now if an officer sees you run a red light or go way over the speed limit, then he or she has the right to pull you over. Then if they see probable cause to doubt your sobriety, they can ask you to take tests. If you choose to perform field sobriety tests, any fatigue or lack of coordination can cause an officer to think that you are impaired. Then if you refuse to take a breath or blood test, you will automatically have your driver's license revoked. This could look bad in a trial too. All this, and you might not even be intoxicated. You need to understand your rights and what you need to do if you are pulled over by a police officer.

First of all, when the officer comes over, you want to be ready with the car parked, the engine off, your window down (and lights on if it is dark). You also want your hands to be on top of the steering wheel, where an officer can see them. Officers will always be wary of any sign that you are hiding something; sometimes officers are killed during simple traffic stops. So do not give an officer any reason to suspect that you have a weapon. If you do legally own a firearm, then you should probably let an officer know about it, especially if it is located in the same spot as your driver's license and registration. This also means that you should not get any papers ready; only go for your license and registration when you are asked, and tell an officer that you will need to go into your purse or glove compartment, etc. to get them out. Wait for the officer to give permission before you proceed.

You will need to follow any legal direction that the officer gives you, and if you have to answer, do so briefly and honestly. Also, if an officer asks whether or not you know the reason why you were pulled over, be sure to answer "no". You do not have to volunteer information, such as your having a drink before you took to the road. Also, if you apologize for anything, this can be misconstrued as admitting guilt. Do not argue with the officer. Eventually, an officer might ask your permission to search the car. Do not say yes. If an officer is asking, this probably means that there is no probable cause for a search.

While you probably would be fine refusing to take a field sobriety test, you cannot refuse to take a breath or a blood test without serious consequences. Because you have a driver's license, you have implied consent to any such chemical tests that are asked of you in conjunction with a DUI arrest. If you refuse these tests, you could lose your driver's license for a year, unless you take steps to fight for your driving privileges at a DHSMV hearing. Also, some prosecutors might be able to use this refusal as incriminating evidence against you. There is rarely a good reason to refuse breath and blood tests.

If you handle the police stop politely and wisely, you can give yourself a much better chance defending any charges that come your way. The police stop can also be crucial to your case if it was unlawful, that is, if an officer stopped you on a hunch, and not for any justifiable cause, such as a traffic violation. If your police stop was unlawful, then you may be able to get some evidence dismissed. While not automatic, this could spell the end of the prosecutor's case against you. If you have any questions about a police stop or a DUI charge, please do not hesitate to contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. Our Tampa DUI defense lawyers are committed to preserving our clients' rights with unrelenting defense.

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