Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. - Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer

How do you protect yourself against a drunk driving charge?

It's all too easy to end up with a drunk driving charge these days. Most people mistakenly believe that they're safe from charges as long as their blood alcohol content (BAC) is below .08. However, that not true.

In fact, a simple traffic stop can turn into a legal nightmare for a driver who has had even a single drink. The law recognizes the fact that everyone responds to alcohol differently. Therefore, even though a BAC of .08 is an automatic cutoff point, you may be considered too drunk to drive at a far lower amount if there's any evidence -- including merely the officer's testimony -- that your driving was somehow impaired.

Knowing that, how can you protect yourself from a drunk driving charge when all you've had is a single beer or a glass of wine with dinner? If getting someone else to drive you home isn't an option, there's one good course of action: Make certain you don't give the police a reason to stop you.

There has to be a good reason -- or probable cause -- for the police to stop your vehicle. That can include traffic violations, such as:

  • Speeding
  • Not wearing your seat belt
  • Talking on your phone
  • Rushing a stop
  • Going through a red light
  • Forgetting to signal as you change lanes or turn

Officers may also have probable cause to stop you if your vehicle:

  • Has a burned out headlight
  • Has a broken tail light
  • Has expired tags
  • Is missing its license plate
  • Has a loud exhaust
  • Has a broken windshield

All of these things put you at risk of an investigation. If the officer suspects that you've been drinking, he or she can press the issue and demand a breathalyzer test. At that point, you'll be faced with unpleasant choices that you'd probably rather not have to make.

Fortunately, all of these things are also highly avoidable. If you keep your vehicle in good condition, remember your seat belt every time you drive and observe the traffic laws, you'll have a lot less reason to fear a drunk driving charge.

Never give an officer a good excuse to pull you over -- especially if there's any chance that you could blow a positive number on a breathalyzer test.

Source: National Motorists Association, "How To Protect Your Rights During A DUI Traffic Stop," accessed April 19, 2018

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