What Happens During A DUI Traffic Stop


During a typical traffic stop in Fort Walton Beach, an intoxicated driver will be on a public roadway like US-98 or I-10, and the driver will either break a traffic law, be driving recklessly, or cause an accident. A police officer will signal for the driver to pull over and will approach the driver’s window. If the officer suspects that the driver is intoxicated, such as due to a strong odor of alcohol, open beer cans in the car, or slurred speech, the officer will ask the driver to get out of the car. The officer will then perform a series of tests designed to detect consumption of alcohol either prior to and while driving.

First, during the stop, the officer will ask the driver if he had anything to drink that night. Even if the driver says no, the officer may continue forward with sobriety tests if the officer suspects that the driver is lying or underestimating how much he had to drink that night. There may be other circumstantial evidence of intoxication present to give the officer reasonable suspicion to conduct sobriety tests.

If you are ever asked by the authorities whether you drank alcohol before getting behind the wheel, you are not required to answer the question! Many clients make the mistake of responding to the officer in order to explain themselves or in hopes of receiving lenience. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a Fort Walton Beach DUI prosecution.

After questioning, the Okaloosa County police officer will then conduct field sobriety tests. These include walking heel-to-toe in a straight line and standing on one leg. In addition, the officer may request that the driver consent to a breathalyzer test. If the driver consents, he will be asked to blow into a machine. The machine will analyze his breath to determine the presence of alcohol and will provide a reading known as the BAC percentage. A BAC over 0.08 is illegal in Florida. However, a BAC of 0.05 to 0.08 is a grey area. A Fort Walton Beach jury may find that one driver’s faculties were impaired at 0.06 but not another driver’s. In these types of cases, additional evidence of impairment will usually be presented by the Okaloosa County prosecutor’s office. In addition, the police officer may also request a blood and/or urine test to detect alcohol. Remember: if you refuse a test, you face at least one year of driver’s license suspension as a penalty.

If the police officer now has sufficient evidence to reach probable cause, the officer will arrest the driver for DUI. The driver’s car will be towed, inventoried, and impounded, and the driver will be taken to the local Fort Walton Beach sheriff’s department to be processed. In many cases, the driver will be released that night and given a citation to appear in court. In cases of extreme intoxication, a lengthy criminal record, or a history of DUI convictions, however, the driver may be held until he appears before an Okaloosa County criminal judge for arraignment.

Consult with a Fort Walton Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer after Being Arrested for DUI

If you were arrested for DUI after a traffic stop in Okaloosa County, it is crucial that you seek the legal guidance of experienced Fort Walton Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Stephen G. Cobb. Stephen G. Cobb is an elite Board Certified Specialist serving Okaloosa County, including Destin and Fort Walton Beach. Less than 1% of all Florida criminal defense lawyers are Board Certified Specialists. Call Fort Walton criminal trial attorney Stephen G. Cobb today for assistance with defending against your DUI charges. Phone: (850) 669-5882.

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