Normal Faculties In A DUI Case May “Not” Be Impaired, Despite Police Charging A Driver
Lakeland, FL (Law Firm Newswire) May 6, 2013 - Can a driver arrested for DUI who refuses to blow be proven guilty?
“I get this question a lot when people contact me for my help with DUI charges,” indicated Thomas Grajek, a Lakeland criminal defense attorney. “They want to know if they refused to submit to a breath test, how can anyone prove they are guilty. There is a common fallacy that if you don’t blow, the charge has to be dismissed, because a prosecutor can’t prove the driver was over 0.08. This is wrong.”
Under the Florida DUI statue, 316.193, a person is guilty if a prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual driver the police arrested had a breath test result or level higher than 0.08 at the time they were stopped and arrested. Or, that the driver the police arrested was under the influence of something that impaired their normal faculties.
What is the definition of normal faculties? “Normal faculties may include, but are not limited to an arrested driver’s ability to make judgments, drive, judge distances, talk coherently and walk in a normal manner, barring a physical disability. To prove a driver’s faculties were impaired, a prosecutor would run a copy of the DUI video, if there is one,” Grajek explained.
In some counties in Florida, such as Polk County, the Sheriff’s Office does not videotape DUI arrests, which would open the door to a number of defenses and create a situation where he said/she said, and who is right or wrong? Since there is no visual evidence, any case made would boil down to either the physical evidence of a breath or blood test, etc., or if the person refused to blow, the officer’s assessment of the person’s normal faculties.
“Without visual evidence, such as a videotape, the prosecutor has the officer testify relating to the indicators of impairment at the time of arrest. That may include the individual’s appearance, if their speech was slurred, how they responded on field sobriety tests and so forth,” explained Grajek.
Only an experienced Lakeland criminal defense attorney knows how to tell the jury that an individual is not guilty of DUI, and he does that by showing that the driver’s normal faculties were not impaired. This may be done in a number of ways, such as referring to a person’s normal driving pattern, that the driver got out of the car without any issues, they performed well on the field tests and did not slur when speaking, etc.
“Also, a case may be defended by pointing out the DUI officer did not take the time to thoroughly explain the field exercises, or wrongly interpreted/graded the driver’s performance, as in not according to the National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration manual,” Grajek outlined. Every driver arrested for DUI is entitled and deserves a vigorous criminal defense. This is not something an individual should attempt to do alone.
Thomas C. Grajek
206 Easton Drive, Suite 102
Lakeland, FL 33803
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