Fort Lauderdale Police Department DUI Task Force Investigations

If you are arrested for drunk driving in Fort Lauderdale, then you probably had an interaction with one of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department DUI Task Force members. These officers have a series of protocols they take to try to determine if you have been drinking and driving.

Members of the FLPD DUI Task Force Include:

FLPD DUI Unit Task Force Police officers coming to conduct a DUI investigation

  1. Sergeant Jonathan Bohm

  2. Officer James Carter

  3. Officer Jason Fithian

  4. Officer Kayla Keating

  5. Officer Nathan Stoner

If one of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department DUI Task Force members suspects you are driving while under the influence of a controlled substance, then the investigation will go as follows:

Step 1 of FLPD DUI Investigation: An Officer Pulls You Over for a Traffic Violation

Almost all incidents that end with a DUI arrest initially start with a law enforcement officer pulling you over for a traffic violation.

In the city of Fort Lauderdale, many officers are tasked with observing traffic for the sole sake of identifying driving actions that they believe suggest that the driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs. For instance, if an officer observes you drift from one lane to another, he or she may pull you over for a traffic infraction. Unbeknownst to you, however, the true reason why an officer may pull you over is that he or she suspects that you are driving while impaired by a substance. 

Step 2 of FLPD DUI Investigation: An Officer Searches for Evidence of Impairment

FLPD DUI police officer checking for signs of impairment

After an officer from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department pulls you over, he or she will try observing if you have: the odor of alcohol, physical attributes that suggest impairment (bloodshot eyes, flushed face, or slurred speech), or any open beverages that contain alcohol.

At this point in time, an officer may ask you basic questions to build their investigation against you. They may ask where you have been, where you are going, if you have been drinking or using drugs, or when your last drink was and how much you had.

If an FLPD officer does this, he or she is trying to develop evidence to validate his or her suspicion against you that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Once the officer has created a reason to be suspicious of you, you will not be free to leave and a full investigation with a DUI Investigator will be performed against you.

At this point, many people wonder how the police can investigate them and ask incriminating questions without first reading Miranda Rights. Yes, all the evidence the FLPD Officer collects during this period prior to Miranda Rights being read can and will be used against you. How, you may ask? It is because DUI investigations are unique in nature. 

In short, a DUI investigation is not a “custodial investigation” which is when one gets interrogated while in police custody. The purpose of a custodial investigation is to heavily question a suspect in order to elicit a confession for a crime. In these situations, you have the right to an attorney because anything you say can and will be used against you in court.

At this point of the investigation, you are not technically in police custody. It may seem like you are, however, because you are not free to leave at this point of the interaction with the police officer. Nonetheless, until you are arrested in a DUI investigation, you are not in police custody.

Secondly, driving is considered a privilege, not a right. As such, your rights are limited when you are participating in an activity that you are privileged to do but not necessarily given the right to do. Among these limitations is the right to an attorney. An FLPD officer will not read you your Miranda Rights at the beginning of a DUI investigation because you do not have the right to an attorney in a situation where an officer alleges that you have violated one of the rules that govern your privilege to drive.

Step 3 of FLPD DUI Investigation: A DUI Unit Officer is Called in

FLPD DUI Unit officer pulling over someone to conduct a DUI Investigation

Now that the officer has developed his or her suspicion against you, the FLPD officer will call in someone who is a part of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department DUI Task Force to formally investigate you for driving under the influence.

Once the FLPD DUI Task Force member arrives, at that point the officer will finally tell you that you are being investigated for DUI and suspected of drunk driving.

The DUI Task Force member will ask you to partake in a series of tests that they use to establish guilt. An officer needs “probable cause” to perform an arrest and these tests are the FLPD DUI Task Force’s way of establishing grounds to arrest you. If the officer has not done so already, you will be asked to exit your vehicle. We recommend you do so voluntarily otherwise you will be removed from the vehicle forcefully.

Step 4 of FLPD DUI Investigation: Standardized Field Sobriety Tasks

The first thing a member of the Fort Lauderdale DUI Task Force will ask you to do is Field Sobriety Tests. These tests are voluntary and you are not legally required to do them

As mentioned earlier, these tests provide law enforcement and state prosecutors with evidence of guilt. The FLPD DUI Task Force member will most likely refrain from informing you that these tests are voluntary. Just like you are not legally required to do them, the officer is also not legally required to tell you that they are not required. In many cases, they will allow you to assume you are obligated to do them and proceed to collect evidence that will assist them in their investigation against you.

Prior to administering the Field Sobriety Tests, the FLPD DUI Task Force member is supposed to ask you if you are sick, injured, handicapped, taking medication or have any other reason why you may not be physically able to perform the tasks. They must also verify that you speak English and then find an officer who speaks your language if you do not.

Next, an officer can only make you do these exercises at a well-lit location on flat, level ground. The types of tests that an officer can ask you to perform are, but are not limited to: the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, Walk and Turn, One Leg Stand, Finger to Nose, and reciting the alphabet.

If you consent to these tests, the FLPD DUI Task Force member will then make a determination based on all of his or her observations if there is probable cause to arrest you for driving under the influence. Rephrased differently, the officer uses his or her own judgment to decide whether or not to arrest you after the tests are completed.

Now, suppose at the beginning of this step, you told the officer that you do not consent to perform the Field Sobriety Tests. In this case, the officer will first try convincing you to perform them by saying the purpose of the tests is to confirm or dispel his or her suspicions of your sobriety. If you still do not agree, the officer will tell you that a refusal can and will be used in court against you. If you still do not agree, then the officer will have to decide whether or not it is appropriate to arrest you based on the information and evidence gathered until that point

Spoiler alert: the answer to that question is almost always yes.

Step 5 of FLPD DUI Investigation: Your Arrest

FLPD DUI Unit Officer arresting someone for drinking and driving

At this point, The FLPD DUI Investigator has most likely decided her or she has probable cause to arrest you for drinking and driving and you can begin the process of your DUI arrest. You will be placed in the back of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department Vehicle and your car is most likely getting towed.

The FLPD DUI Task Force Officer will now ask you for a breath test. If the officer does not have a breathalyzer, you will be transported to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office Breath and Alcohol Testing facility. In the State of Florida, the legal limit for the breath test is .08. If you take the test and blow above the limit, your driving privileges will be revoked for at least 6 months if this is your first DUI offense. 

If you blow under this limit, the officer will not release you to leave because they will then suspect that you are under the influence of another substance other than alcohol. In this scenario, the officer will then request a blood or urine sample from you. 

After you complete all of these tests, you would then be transferred to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office Main Jail. What if the result of your blood or urine test comes out clean, you may ask? You will still be taken to the BSO Main Jail because it takes several hours to process these tests and awaiting the results from the inside of a jail cell is inevitable.

If you refuse to take the breath test, the FLPD DUI Task Force Officer will then tell you all the penalties associated with your refusal. If you still refuse, the officer will likely transport you to the BSO Mail Jail and skip the BSO B.A.T. facility. Your license will then be suspended for a year in the State of Florida if this is your first time refusing the breath test. Whether your driving privileges are revoked for blowing above the limit or refusing to take the breath test, you have up to 10 days from the day of your arrest to apply for a hardship license through the Florida DMV.

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Our Experience with the FLPD DUI Task Force

Our DUI Defense Attorneys at the Rossen Law Firm know all of the members of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department DUI Task Force and we have resolved many cases for clients with each officer on the FLPD DUI Task Force. Below are case results for drunk driving arrests from members of the FLPD DUI Task Force:

Sergeant Jonathan Bohm

Office James Carter

Officer Jason Fithian

Officer Nathan Stoner

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