The Officer as Witness
In all criminal cases, you have the right to confront and cross-examine your accuser. In a DUI case, generally this means you have the right to cross-examine the law enforcement officer who arrested you for DUI. It is this law enforcement officer who initially pulled you over and made the decision to check your BAC that led to your arrest, so he or she is a very important witness in your case.
Dealing with the officer as witness is a complicated prospect. Law enforcement officials are obviously respected and trusted within the criminal justice system. At the same time, law enforcement members are people who can make mistakes too, and mistakes in field sobriety tests are common. Having an experienced Fort Lauderdale DUI attorney to represent you and help you to question the police officer in your case is essential in order to have the best possible chance of minimizing or avoiding the consequences of a DUI.Issues Related to the Officer as Witness
The officer's testimony will be important to determine several essential facts:
- Why you were pulled over.
- Why you were given an alcohol test.
- Whether you were impaired at the time you were driving.
The first two issues- why you were pulled over and why you were given an alcohol test- are relevant because the Fourth Amendment protects your right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. If law enforcement pulled you over for no reason or conducted a breath test or sobriety test without probable cause, any evidence collected against you may be inadmissible due to the violation of your constitutional rights. Without evidence, you cannot be convicted.
Regarding the second issue, the officers testimony is important because DUI in Florida may be proven either by the fact that your blood alcohol content was above the legal limit of .08 or by the fact that you were impaired while driving. An officer may be able to testify as to specific behavior or actions that indicated you were impaired. This might include providing information on your failure of field sobriety tests. However, field sobriety tests are often inaccurate and police officers may not be fully skilled in making a determination as to whether you are actually intoxicated or not. You can raise these issues on the stand to help you cast doubt on your guilt.
Finally, it may be important to elicit from the officer information about his experience administering breath tests. When officers are not properly trained in the administration of a breathalyzer test, or when they are experienced in administering the test, mistakes can be made and inaccuracies can occur. You may thus also be able to cast doubt on the results of the breathalyzer test administered.
To learn more about how to handle the officer as witness, it is very important to contact an experienced Boward County DUI attorney.
If you have been charged with DUI in South Florida, call The Ansara Law Firm today for your free initial consultation at (954) 761-4011! You can also contact us online. It only takes a minute to call, but it can make all the difference in the world.