Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 25, 2020

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We asked William D. Umansky, a Florida attorney with over 15 years of experience whose practice focuses in the areas of personal injury and criminal defense, to provide Florida drivers with some tips on how to improve the outcome of their Florida DUI (driving while under the influence). Here’s what he told us:

  • Breath tests & answering questions. In the old days, you might advise people to refuse the breath test. However, you can no longer do that because you could be setting them up to commit a criminal act. (If you’ve previously refused a breath test, you can be charged with a new criminal offense, which is a first degree misdemeanor punishable up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine).

    So, the best way someone can help themselves in a DUI situation is to not disclose how many drinks they’ve had. If they volunteer the information as to how many drinks they’ve had, I can assure you that will be used against them. If they’re asked where they’re coming from or where they were going, those questions do not have to be answered and any answers given to a law enforcement officer on that basis will also be used against them.

However, when given the opportunity to take the breath test, Umansky says that in many cases it would be wise to do so. He explained, “Unfortunately, that breath test will be used against them, but if they don’t take it, the penalties for refusing it can not only be criminal, but the periods of suspension can also be enhanced from at least a year to 18 months.”

  • Field sobriety tests. If they are asked to do field sobriety tests, there is no requirement that they have to stick up their leg for 30 seconds or walk down a line in the middle of the road or count their alphabet frontward or backwards. They can choose to refuse doing those things and there are no legal penalties associated with them. In fact, without the field sobriety test, the state’s case becomes weaker. Whether or not someone should complete those field sobriety tests is totally up to that person and a lawyer cannot necessarily advise as to whether the person should refuse them.
  • Do’s & Don’ts in Florida

    When stopped for a DUI, Umansky says that you should:

    -Be polite to the police officer.
    -Realize you could be on videotape.
    -Cooperate when being handcuffed by not resisting or struggling.
    -Give careful answers to questions.

    However, he says that you should not:

    -Beg the officer to let you go.
    -Apologize to the officer.
    -Start crying and trying to negotiate or bargain with the officer.
    -Tell the officer you’re going to lose your job, your occupation, your career or your spouse.

    He says that all of those things will be used against you.

If you have a DUI issue, contact an experienced Florida DUI attorney to discuss your situation and evaluate your options. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential.