Interviewer: What are some common misconceptions that people have?
Matthew: Well, one of the misconceptions is that just because someone blows over the legal limit leads automatically to a conviction. Florida’s statutes, when it comes to DUI, are set up in a way that that presumption of impairment can be rebutted. Say someone blew a .09 and that’s over the legal limit. If there’s evidence to show that the defendant is actually not impaired such as through field sobriety exercises or showing that their normal faculties are not impaired, then a jury can actually find that individual not guilty. Just an example, when I was a prosecutor, I had a case where a kid blew a .10. He was over the legal limit; however, on video the field sobriety exercises he looked great. He walked the line pretty well. He stood on one leg pretty well and he did the finger-to-nose exercise pretty well.
The jury said, “You know what me may be over the legal limit, but he doesn’t look impaired.” He was found not guilty.
Common Mistakes that People Make that Hurt their DUI Case
Interviewer: Wow. What are some of the common mistakes that a client will do that will hurt their case?
Matthew: One of the big mistakes that someone does is when an officer starts asking questions about where they came from, how much they had to drink and things like that. Those are questions that would be better left unanswered. That would be the appropriate time to say, I’m not going to speak unless I have an attorney present. Although, in those situations you’re technically not in custody under a lot of traffic stop scenarios, but again those are not questions that help your case whatsoever. We also have situations where clients hurt themselves in DUIs that involve accidents. A lot of times when the officer arrives on scene, let’s just say the defendant is outside of the vehicle and the officer can’t really place the defendant behind the wheel as the driver.
A lot of times we see cases where the officer just asks straight up, “Hey, were you driving this car?” The person admits to driving. That could sink that entire case just by that admission of driving. That’s another situation where just exercising your right to remain silent is probably the best course of action there.