DUI Defenses for Women in Florida
The laws pertaining to driving under the influence (DUI) in the State of Florida are pretty clear. The basic rule is that a driver may be guilty of DUI if she has a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher, or, is otherwise found to be impaired by alcohol or a controlled substance when driving. This rule applies to both males and females alike. However, while the rule of law is applicable to both sexes, alcohol (and alcohol related stops by law enforcement personnel) affects females much more differently than males. This essentially means that there are several defenses available to females who have been arrested/charged with DUI that are not otherwise available to males. These defenses specifically pertain to field sobriety tests.
Field Sobriety Tests – The Walk-and-Turn and the One-Leg Stand
Once an officer stops a driver for suspicion of a DUI, the officer frequently requests that the driver perform one of several field sobriety tests. Two of these tests include the walk-and-turn test and the one-leg stand test. Officers use both of these tests to aid in determining whether a driver’s functioning has been impaired by alcohol. Officers also use both tests for male and female drivers. However, the nature of the tests can impose special difficulties on women that are often not experienced by male drivers.
A quick look at both tests might make these difficulties more apparent. The walk-and-turn test requires a suspect to take nine foot steps, heel to toe, along a straight line. The suspect must then turn on one foot, and walk in the opposite direction in the same manner.
The one-leg stand test requires a suspect to begin by standing in place with her feet together and her arms at her sides. The suspect is then instructed to stand on one foot/leg with her other foot approximately six inches off the ground. Once in place, the suspect is required to count out loud, in seconds, until told to put her foot down.
Difficulties for Women
Women drivers stopped by an officer, under a suspicion of DUI, have an inherent difficulty with both of the above tests. This difficulty typically results from two factors. The first relates to stress levels. The second relates to a woman’s shoes.
Getting stopped for DUI is a stressful situation for anyone… no matter the sex of the driver. However, it is well proven that women tend to react differently to stress as do men. This applies equally to the DUI context and women often suffer greater stress than men once stopped for suspicion of this charge. Let’s look at the typical DUI stop scenario. Females, more so than males, have greater concerns with the simple requirement to exit their vehicle. Females, again more so than males, are more prone to crying, or at the least, appearing more visibly shaken, once stopped by law enforcement personnel. This added stress can easily translate into real difficulties with either walking and turning, or standing on one leg.
A second difficulty for women in performing the above tests is based upon a woman’s shoe selection. Women stopped for suspicion of DUI are often in high heeled shoes or flip flops. By the very nature of their design, both of these types of shoes add little help in successfully performing either a walk-and-turn test or a one-leg stand test. Granted, law enforcement personnel may allow a woman to remove her shoes before performing one of these tests if she feels it will be to her advantage. However, consider the barefoot alternative. Walking or standing, on bare feet, on the shoulder of a road, is no easy task. Factor in a dimly lit environment and this task becomes even more troublesome to perform.
Stress levels and a woman’s shoe selection are just two examples of the disadvantages women may experience when stopped for DUI. DUI defense for women has a number of possible options and our experienced team of dedicated attorneys know these options. We are here to analyze your case and build the best defense for you. If you are a female that has been charged with DUI and you have questions about your case, contact us today.