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Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer > Blog > DUI > Is a Florida Police Officer’s Testimony Enough to Support a DUI Arrest?

Is a Florida Police Officer’s Testimony Enough to Support a DUI Arrest?


“Reasonable suspicion” is the legal standard a police officer must meet to initiate a DUI investigation under Florida law. Specifically, an officer must have reasonable suspicion that a driver’s normal faculties are “impaired” due to the use of alcohol or drugs. What is “reasonable” will depend on the circumstances.

Speeding Justified Traffic Stop, Subsequent DUI Arrest

The Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal recently addressed the reasonable suspicion standard in DUI cases. In State v. Tyson, a trial court granted a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence gathered during a DUI investigation. But the appellate court reversed, holding the arresting officer’s actions satisfied the reasonable suspicion standard.

The officer was on patrol around midnight one evening when he observed the defendant speeding. The officer also saw the defendant’s vehicle drifting “at least a couple of inches” out of his lane. After initiating a traffic stop, the officer subsequently smelled alcohol on the defendant’s breath and saw that his eyes were red and glassy.

The defendant admitted drinking “one or two beers about four hours earlier.” The officer then initiated a DUI investigation. This led to the defendant’s arrest for DUI.As the Fourth District explained, the officer’s observations alone were “sufficient to give rise to a reasonable suspicion to detain the driver to conduct a DUI investigation.”

Before the appeals court, the defendant cited a 2007 case, Hurd v. State, where the Fourth District suppressed evidence and dismissed a drug conviction against a defendant charged with cocaine possession. In that case, a sheriff’s deputy initiated a traffic stop after observing the defendant “looking in his mirror and driving kind of slow.” When the defendant then changed lanes without signaling, the deputy initiated a traffic stop. This led to a search of the vehicle’s defendant, which revealed the presence of drugs.

The Tyson court said the Hurd case was different in that the officer lacked probable cause to initiate a traffic stop. And the deputy otherwise lacked reasonable suspicion to suspect impaired driving. In the Tyson case, however, the underlying traffic stop was justified because the defendant was speeding. More to the point, the officer’s observations of the defendant during the stop created reasonable suspicion to initiate a DUI investigation. The officer’s actions were therefore legal.

Contact the Joshi Law Firm Today

One takeaway from the Tyson case is that if you are in the midst of a traffic stop, you should never volunteer any information that might give rise to a reasonable suspicion of DUI. In this case, the defendant told the officer he had been drinking that evening. There is no good reason to ever make such an admission to the police. Instead, you should say nothing about where you have been or what you may have been doing.

And if you are arrested on suspicion of DUI, you should continue to say nothing to the police until you have spoken with a qualified Orlando DUI defense attorney. Contact the Joshi Law Firm, P.A., today to schedule a free consultation.




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