Florida DUI Arrest Procedures

If you need an attorney to fight a Driving Under the Influence case in St. Augustine, Florida or surrounding areas contact Mydock Law at (904) 864-3002 for a free consultation. We defend many DUI cases in St. Johns County. Attorney Travis Mydock is a Board-Certified Specialist in Criminal Trial Law as recognized by The Florida Bar.

Other than having a good attorney and/or luck, the most effective method for avoiding a DUI is to have a designated driver. But if you happen to find yourself in court accused of a DUI, the most effective path to beating the case is to win a motion to suppress based on a “bad” stop. If the facts and law support it, a motion to suppress will be filed pre-trial and ruled upon by the judge after an evidentiary hearing. If you’re facing a DUI charge, having the right DUI lawyer is key for avoiding jail time. 

What Makes a “Bad” Traffic Stop?

An important question from an experienced DUI defense attorney is always: why were you stopped by the police?

You are probably now wondering what makes it a “bad” stop. Well, that again depends on the facts and DUI law. Law enforcement officers are human, and they make mistakes too. A good criminal defense attorney will make sure the stop and DUI investigations are handled by the books. It is important to hire an experienced DUI attorney to aggressively defend your case from the moment that you are charged. Delaying in hiring a lawyer could be a fatal mistake in your case.

When it comes to the DUI arrest process, law enforcement performing proactive enforcement will often look for simple traffic violations to stop a driver. Speeding is probably the most common reason for a traffic stop. If the stopping or arresting officer notices the smell of alcohol, that police contact will quickly escalate to a DUI investigation, arrest, and likely resulting driver’s license suspension (if you refused a breathalyzer breath test or your test results were over the legal limit of .08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath). 

The first question in a DUI investigation is typically: Have you been drinking and/or where are you coming from? If the answer is yes to drinking, or that you are coming from downtown St. Augustin, the Amphitheater, or a bar, expect to be asked out of the motor vehicle and asked to perform field sobriety tests. 

Do You Need To Commit a Traffic Infraction To Be Stopped in Florida?

Let’s back up. Do you legally have to commit a traffic infraction for the officer to stop you in St. Augustine? The answer is, surprisingly, no. 

Law enforcement in St. Johns County will frequently stop people if they are showing signs of impairment, such as weaving within their lane. If the driver does not commit a traffic infraction, the stopping police officer must be able to articulate a reasonable suspicion that the driver was impaired based on facts observed before the stop.

Most law enforcement agencies have body cameras now. As of February 2024, the following agencies have body cameras in active use: St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, St. Augustine Police Department, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Wildlife Commission, and Palatka Police Department. Some of the officers also have dash cameras and/or an Intoxilyzer 8000 in their patrol vehicle. 

If the officer has a dash camera, the driving pattern should be recorded on video. If it is not, that could be a violation of due process. If the officer is only equipped with a body camera, they likely did not employ it in a method to capture the driving pattern. If the officer has neither, their agency needs to get with the times and start using their iPhones to capture the evidence.

Due to the complexities of DUI cases, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight your DUI case in St. Johns County, Florida, or surrounding areas. If you need an attorney for your driving under the influence case in St. Johns County, Florida contact Mydock Law at (904) 864-3002 for a free consultation.

What Is Reasonable Suspicion?

Police need reasonable suspicion to justify a “safety-related” traffic stop.

In State v. DeShong, 603 So. 2d 1349 (Fla. 2d 1992), the court ruled that the officer had a “founded suspicion” justifying the stop of a motorist for driving while under the influence, based on an observation that the motorist appeared to be using lane markers to position his vehicle. The motorist was also abruptly slowing from 55 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour and then accelerating rapidly.

In order to effect a valid stop for DUI, the officer need only have a “founded suspicion” of criminal activity. See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968); Piediscalzo v. State, 549 So. 2d 255 (Fla. 2d DCA 1989); section 901.151, (Fla. Statutes (2023). Thereafter, the probable cause needed to arrest or suspend a license for DUI may be based upon evidence obtained during the standard procedures following a valid traffic stop. See State v. Carrillo, 506 So. 2d 495 (Fla. 5th DCA 1987).

Is Erratic Driving Enough for Reasonable Suspicion?

Erratic driving similar to that involved in the DeShong case has been held sufficient to establish a founded suspicion and to validate a DUI stop. See, Carrillo (weaving within a traffic lane); Esteen v. State, 503 So. 2d 356 (Fla. 5th DCA 1987). Driving behavior need not reach the level of a traffic violation in order to justify a DUI stop. SeeCarrillo; Esteen.

The courts of this state have recognized that a legitimate concern for the safety of the motoring public can warrant a brief investigatory stop to determine whether a driver is ill, tired, or driving under the influence in situations less suspicious than that required for other types of criminal behavior. 

In Bailey v. State, 319 So. 2d 22 (Fla. 1975), the Florida Supreme Court upheld the traffic stop of a driver who was observed driving her vehicle at a slow rate of speed and weaving within her lane of traffic. The court expressly stated that there were no circumstances that would reasonably have led the officer to believe criminal activity was taking place. Id. at 26. The court nevertheless validated the traffic stop, stating that “[b]ecause of the dangers inherent to our vehicular mode of life, there may be justification for the stopping of a vehicle by a patrolman to determine the reason for its unusual operation.” 

See also Michigan Dep’t of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990) (emphasizing the state’s interest in preventing drunk driving); State v. Potter, 438 So. 2d 1085 (Fla. 2d DCA 1983)(noting the public policy concerns surrounding the dangerousness of vehicles in general and impaired drivers in particular).

Attorney for Driving Under the Influence arrest in St. Augustine or St. Johns County

Attorney Travis Mydock is a Board-Certified Specialist in Criminal Trial Law by The Florida Bar. His practice is limited to DUI and criminal defense. 

Mydock Law is a boutique criminal defense law firm located in St. Augustine, Florida. The firm frequently defends DUI cases in the Seventh Judicial Circuit: Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns, and Volusia counties; the Fourth Judicial Circuit: Clay and Duval counties; and the Eighth Judicial Circuit: Alachua, Bradford, and Baker counties.

Defense lawyer Mydock has vast experience in all types of Florida DUI/DWI cases and related issues. Mydock Law frequently defends Florida DUI/DWI cases in the following cities: 

St. Johns County DUI/DWI

St. Augustine DUI/DWI

Ponte Vedra Beach DUI/DWI

Ponte Vedra DUI/DWI

Julington Creek DUI/DWI

Nocatee DUI/DWI

Silverleaf DUI/DWI

Fruit Cove DUI/DWI

Cresent Beach DUI/DWI

Hastings DUI/DWI

Flagler DUI/DWI

Palm Coast DUI/DWI

Flagler Beach DUI/DWI

Bunnell DUI/DWI

Duval County DUI/DWI

Jacksonville DUI/DWI

Jacksonville Beach DUI/DWI

Clay County DUI/DWI

Green Cove Springs DUI/DWI

Putnam County DUI/DWI

Palatka DUI/DWI

Interlachen DUI/DWI

Volusia County DUI/DWI

Ormond Beach DUI/DWI

Daytona Beach DUI/DWI

Bike Week DUI/DWI

Motorcycle DUI/DWI

If you have been arrested for DUI in St. Augustine or surrounding areas, call Mydock Law at (904) 864-3002 for a free and confidential case evaluation. 

Therefore, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight your DUI case in St. Johns County, Florida or surrounding areas. Attorney for a boating under the influence case in St. Johns County, Florida contact Mydock Law at (904) 864-3002 for a free consultation.

Legal Disclaimer: The information you obtain on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should always consult an attorney for specific legal advice regarding your individual situation. Review of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship.


Florida DUI and Administrative Suspension Laws | Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

State, Dept. of Hwy. Saf. v. DeShong, 603 So. 2d 1349 | Casetext Search + Citator

Terry v. Ohio :: 392 U.S. 1 (1968) | Justia

Piediscalzo v. State, 88-03282 – Florida – Case Law | VLEX 892226786

State v. Carrillo, 506 So. 2d 495 | Casetext Search + Citator

Esteen v. State, 503 So. 2d 356 | Casetext Search + Citator

Bailey v. State :: 1975 :: Florida Supreme Court Decisions | Justia

Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz :: 496 U.S. 444 (1990) | Justia