In Miami, police are required to have some evidence of criminal activity in order to detain someone and proceed with an investigation. This is true for drug related crimes and DUIs.
In one recent case in Florida, police witnessed an individual slumped in a car, sitting in the driver’s seat. The individual was parked at a convenience store but the car engine was running. The police went to investigate and found that the driver was asleep. They knocked on the door in an attempt to wake her but this was unsuccessful. While inspecting, they noticed the smell of alcohol coming from within the vehicle.
The police then forcibly opened the door and shook the woman awake. They conducted a DUI investigation and the woman was then arrested for DUI.
Looking at cases like this is always interesting for a Miami criminal defense attorney. This is not a black and white case and that’s the way the criminal defense lawyer on the case saw it. They argued to the court the police had no legal basis for opening the door to remove the woman from the vehicle. However, the court disagreed. In Florida, the police are not permitted to search a vehicle or detain an individual without specific evidence of criminal activity – as we have already ascertained. This was the angle the defense attorney was going with.
However, in this case, the court found the fact that the woman was not responsive and the car smelled like alcohol was enough evidence at this point. It is also true that the police were unable to wake her by banging against the window and these factors combined were seen as enough evidence to conduct further investigation.
But this is not a cut and dried scenario. In a very similar case, a court came to a different conclusion. Here, the person was found asleep in the driver’s seat of a car that was parked at a restaurant. Again, police knocked against the window and the person woke up. They refused to open their door and this eventually led to the police asking five times. They then exited the vehicle and the police testified that they appeared intoxicated. This case was thrown out of court however, as there was no compelling evidence a crime was being committed prior to the individual being asked to step out their car.
So you are not supposed to wake up in jail if you fall asleep – so long as you are cognizant enough to wake up when the window is knocked on!
Understanding minutiae of the law like this can allow a skilled Miami criminal attorney to argue the best and most effective case in court. This is what sets Pagan & Stroleny, P.L. apart and it’s why you should allow us to handle your criminal court case. Get in touch or take a look around the site to find out more.
We handle a variety of criminal law cases, so call us now if you have any questions.
View more contact information here: Miami DUI Attorney.