Criminal Defense LawyerLakeland, Tampa, FL

Can You Be Charged With DUI For ‘Odor of Alcohol On Breath’?

police officer conducts traffic stop at night; Lakeland, FL DUI defense attorney

A DUI attorney can help you build a strong defense

In Florida, as in many other states, driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that can have potentially severe consequences. DUI charges are commonly associated with blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels exceeding the legal limit and field sobriety test failures or breathalyzer results.

But police sometimes use 'odor of alcohol on breath' as a basis to begin an investigation of DUI. What should you do if you find yourself facing a DUI charge based on an officer's claim that they smelled alcohol on your breath?

Understanding DUI laws in Florida

In Florida, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) while operating a motor vehicle is 0.08%. This means that if you're pulled over by police and your BAC measures at or above 0.08%, you can be arrested and charged with DUI. However, state law provides flexibility for officers to make arrests based on their observations and reasonable suspicion of impairment.

The 'odor of alcohol on breath' is one such observation that law enforcement officers may use. In DUI arrest reports, police officers often note that they detected the scent of alcohol on a driver's breath during a traffic stop.

The odor alone does not confirm impairment or a specific BAC level. All it means is that a driver may have consumed an alcoholic beverage. However, the odor can trigger a series of events that lead to a DUI charge.

Challenging a DUI charge based on odor of alcohol

If you're facing a DUI charge in Florida based on 'odor of alcohol on breath,' it's important to remember that you have the right to challenge the arrest and seek legal representation. Depending on your situation, an experienced DUI lawyer may base your defense on the following:

  • Lack of probable cause – Your attorney may argue that the officer lacked probable cause to make the DUI arrest based solely on the odor of alcohol. They may question whether the officer had enough evidence, such as erratic driving or other signs of impairment, to justify the arrest.
  • Medical conditions – Certain medical conditions and medications can produce odors similar to alcohol on a person's breath.
  • Field sobriety tests – If you took field sobriety tests, your attorney may evaluate whether they were conducted properly. Mistakes or inaccuracies during these tests can cast doubt on the validity of the arrest.
  • Breathalyzer accuracy – If you took a breathalyzer test at the police station, your attorney might examine the accuracy of the device and whether it was properly calibrated.
  • Eyewitness accounts – Witness statements and other evidence can be used to challenge the officer's claims about the odor of alcohol and your behavior.

An experienced DUI attorney can fight for you

A DUI conviction can have serious consequences. These can include fines, probation, community service, mandatory DUI education programs, and even jail time in some cases. Your driver's license may be suspended, impacting your ability to work and carry out daily activities.

In addition, a conviction can lead to substantial increases in your auto insurance premiums or possibly even the cancellation of your coverage. You will also have a criminal record that can affect your employment, housing, and future opportunities.

That's why you need an experienced DUI defense attorney who knows how to win. Thomas C. Grajek, Attorney at Law has been fighting for the rights of Florida residents for more than 25 years. He can fight for the best possible outcome in your DUI case.

If you've been arrested for impaired driving in Lakeland or anywhere in Polk County, get Grajek. Contact us for a free consultation to learn more.

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