Under Florida law, a person can be arrested for and charged with a DUI offense absent evidence of their blood alcohol level. There are nonetheless limitations on when a police officer is permitted to arrest a person for misdemeanor DUI, though, as discussed in a recent Florida ruling in which the court ultimately overturned the defendant’s conviction. If you are charged with a DUI offense, it is in your best interest to speak with a Clearwater DUI defense lawyer about your options for seeking a just outcome.
The Factual and Procedural History of the Case
It is alleged that a police officer was summoned to the scene of an accident by a public safety aid. The officer then arrested the defendant for a misdemeanor DUI based solely on the information provided to him by the public safety officer and his road sobriety investigation. The officer did not conduct an investigation of the accident or observe the defendant operating or exercising actual physical possession over the vehicle involved in the accident.
Reportedly, the defendant pled no contest to the charge but reserved her right to appeal the issue of the lawfulness of her arrest. The state conceded it made an error on the issue of whether the defendant’s arrest was lawful. Thus, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction.
Grounds for Misdemeanor DUI Arrests
In reversing the defendant’s conviction, the court noted that the public safety aide was not a deputized police officer, and therefore, the arresting officer was not permitted to rely on his investigation or observations in order to establish probable cause. As such, the court found that the record did not support the lawfulness of the defendant’s arrest.
The court went on to explain that there are only three circumstances under which the defendant can arrest a person for DUI: when the officer observes each element of a prima facie case when an officer is investigating an accident and develops probable cause to charge a person with DUI, and when one officer asks another for assistance and the combined observations of both officers are joined to establish the probable cause for the arrest.
In the subject case, the arresting officer did not observe each element of the DUI offense, nor did he conduct his own investigation of the accident, and he could not rely on the information from the public safety aid because he was not a deputized officer. As such, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction.
Talk to a Trusted Clearwater Attorney
A conviction for a DUI crime can impair a person’s rights and reputation, but if the prosecution cannot establish that a DUI arrest was lawful, it should not be able to establish guilt. If you are accused of a DUI offense, it is wise to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. The trusted Clearwater DUI crime defense attorneys of Hanlon Law can inform you of your rights and help you to pursue the best legal result possible under the facts of your case. You can reach Hanlon Law through the online form or by calling 727-897-5413 to set up a conference.