St. Petersburg & Clearwater DUI: Your Breath Test, Field Sobriety Tests and Police Report
Pinellas County DUI Lawyers
The 3 Key Pieces of Evidence in a DUI Case
Most Pinellas County DUI cases are based on three key pieces of evidence:
The Breath Test
The results of a breath test can sometimes be challenged in court and legally suppressed from evidence. For instance, the Intoxilyzer results may be inaccurate or unreliable due to improper maintenance, calibration, or a lapse in certification for the machine or the operator’s permit. Inaccurate Intoxilyzer readings could be caused by such things as burping or belching, the failure of law enforcement to properly observe you for a 20 minute period prior to breath testing, or the lack of proper training on the part of the breath test operator.
Breath test results can be excluded as evidence by your Pinellas County Court Judge if he finds that your decision to submit a breath sample was coerced or made under duress. Florida law requires a showing that your decision to submit a breath sample into the Intoxilyzer machine was made freely and voluntarily in order for the results to be admissible in court.
Our office can secure the documents associated with the Intoxilyzer machine used in your case for a thorough evaluation in determining whether all administrative rules and state statutes were complied with. Any substantial deviation from the correct procedures set forth in Florida law could provide a sufficient basis to have your breath test results thrown out. Depriving the prosecutor of this key piece of evidence could significantly change the complexion of your case and strengthen our negotiating position.
Attorney Timothy Sullivan maintains an extensive library of records associated with every intoxilyzer used in Pinellas County. These include machines owned by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, St. Petersburg Police Department, Clearwater Police Department, Treasure Island Police Department, Largo Police Department, Kenneth City Police Department, Pinellas Park Police Department, Gulfport Police Department, Tarpon Springs Police Department and those machines formerly owned by the now defunct St. Pete Beach Police Department.
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Roadside Field Sobriety Tests
In most DUI cases that arise out of the St. Petersburg and Clearwater area, the police administer field sobriety exercises to determine if you should be arrested. These tests are typically recorded using dash-mounted in-car video cameras. The officer’s interpretation of your performance on these roadside tests may be challenged based on a variety of reasons. These include such considerations as whether you suffer from a physical, mental or medical problem that would have impacted your performance. Likewise, it may be important to learn if you were nervous, tired, or distracted during the testing procedures. Moreover, an examination of the video itself is also important. For example, the video may have limited utility in court due to a lack of audio or poor video quality. The recording might be of limited evidentiary value where a review reveals that your performance may have been affected by traffic, noise, or poor lighting conditions. Many clients express concern with how they will look on Field Sobriety Exercises due to the officer’s statement that the client performed poorly on these roadside tasks. Our office has found, in many cases, that our client’s appearance on video is much better than the office described.
Securing a Copy of Your DUI Video
Our office will secure a copy of the video taken at the time of your arrest. It is our practice to examine these videos with close scrutiny in order to determine whether the Field Sobriety Tests were properly explained and demonstrated in accordance with NHTSA standards. Further, a review of your video will provide us with a better understanding of your appearance, your speech, and your overall demeanor at the time of your traffic stop. Your appearance on video may provide us with the ammunition to negotiate a reduction of the DUI charge in your case to the lesser offense of Reckless Driving.
The criminal arrest affidavit you may have received at the Pinellas County Jail is commonly referred to as a “booking advisory.” Contrary to popular belief, this document is not the police report. Rather, it only contains the bare facts sufficient to establish probable cause for purposes of justifying your arrest. A full and complete police report is generated by the officer after your arrest. This is a narrative account of his observations beginning with your driving pattern and following through to your ultimate arrest. The police report documents your performance on field sobriety tests, records statements or admissions you may have made, and includes a variety of other observations related to your state of sobriety.
It must be remembered that the police report is only the officer’s “opinion” or “subjective interpretation” of the events leading up to your arrest. Our office can secure a copy of the full narrative police report in your case and carefully review it with you. We will be able to examine the facts recounted within report and compare the officer’s account with what we observe on the video. We can also compare the report with your own recollection of events, along with the observations of any passengers in your vehicle. Further, we will be able to determine if the initial basis for stopping your motor vehicle is one that was legally justified under the law. Our review of the police report may uncover violations of your constitutional rights that could result in the exclusion of incriminating statements or other critical evidence in your case.
Schedule a free appointment with our office. We can immediately begin asking the following important questions about your case:
- Did the officer have a valid reason to stop you?
- Was the breath test administered properly?
- How would a refusal to submit a breath sample affect your case?
- Were the field sobriety tests administered fairly and in the proper manner?
- Was any video taken in your case?
- How might your performance on the video-recorded field sobriety exercises help or hurt your chances of securing a reduction to Reckless Driving?
- Is the police report fair and accurate?
- Were you properly read your Miranda Warnings?
- Were any statements that you made coerced, taken out of context, or misinterpreted?
- Can any of the evidence in your case be ordered inadmissible by the Court?
- What are the overall strengths and weaknesses of your case?
- Is your case a good candidate for reduction to the lesser offense of Reckless Driving?
- Can steps be taken to provide you with a temporary driving permit or hardship license that will keep your driving?
- Can a continuance of your court date be obtained to further investigate your options?
Call our office for a free consultation at: (727) 578-0303