Clients often tell me that they want to see the body camera or dash camera from the police because it will prove their innocence. Sometimes, if there is video, it’s arguable whether it helps or hurts. But many times, those clients are exactly right. What’s worse, some of those clients consented to blood-alcohol tests that actually showed they were, in fact, below the 0.08 limit. So, how does someone get arrested for a DUI when they aren’t above the limit?
Florida law prohibits a person from driving if their “normal faculties” are impaired by alcohol or if they have a blood-alcohol level above 0.08 g/ 210l in their breath. It appears as if the government is allowed two ways to prove the alleged crime. But it all boils down to a person’s normal faculties.
“Normal faculties” are defined as a person’s ability to “see, hear walk, talk, judge distances, drive an automobile, make judgments, act in emergencies, and, in general, normally perform the many mental and physical acts of daily life.” F.S. § 316.1934(1). As you can see, these are very basic, sometimes motor function level capabilities. If you cannot do these things, then you are legally impaired.
A blood-alcohol level above 0.08 gives a legal presumption that the person is legally impaired. But that’s a problem. We know that alcohol affects people differently. We know that certain people can have a greater or lower tolerance for alcohol, regardless of their past use. So, the law allows a person charged with DUI to present evidence to rebut—or contradict—that legal presumption. One of the ways to rebut is to present evidence that the person’s normal faculties were not impaired. This means that, hypothetically, a person could be above the 0.08 limit but still have their “normal faculties” intact. Whether it’s a wise choice to drive is a completely different story. Spoiler: no.
Going back to those videos of my clients, they are often standing straight up, looking at the police officer, talking to the police officer, listening to the police officer, obeying the police officers orders, walking around the scene—and, in general, normally performing the many mental and physical acts of daily life! This can be powerful evidence to put up against the prosecution’s case, which usually involves ridiculous roadside exercises that they know are outdated and unreliable.
Don’t throw in the towel too early. Make sure you understand your rights. Call Clint & Company, P.A. today.