Stopped for a DUI in Florida – I Have a Gun in My Car – What Do I Do?
It is not unusual for a Dothan, Alabama resident to head south to Panama City Beach. In 87 miles you can be on the white sands and wide expanse of Florida’s Panhandle coastline and many Alabama residents take advantage of the proximity.
But what do you do if you are stopped for a DUI in
Florida and you have a gun in the car?
When you applied for a concealed carry weapon (CCW)
gun permit you vowed not to commit a crime while in the possession of a gun.
Unfortunately, a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) is a criminal offense, which means you have essentially violated the condition of your gun permit.
Because of your DUI, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, depending on how many DUI convictions you have.
You didn’t say whether your gun is loaded or not.
The only exception might be if you are carrying your gun in the vehicle while
it is unloaded. Alabama law says you can carry a handgun without a permit if
the handgun is unloaded and locked away in a compartment or container. Otherwise,
if your gun is loaded, you must have a permit.
Now back to Florida. You are pulled over for a DUI with a gun in the car.
Tell the Officer
So what do you do?
This is a sticky situation but how you handle it will determine the outcome.
First and foremost – let the officer know you have a gun in the car. Whether it is visible or not, it is important to be transparent. If the officer finds out you were not truthful, it will make the situation much worse for you.
Be pleasant. There is no sense in arguing away this situation. You will need to rely on the discretion of the officer, so there is no sense doing anything that would make him look at you unfavorably.
Once you inform the officer, tell him whether or
not you have a permit for the gun. A CCW permit covers just a handgun not a
long gun, either a rifle or shotgun.
Florida does recognize Alabama’s concealed carry license and there is reciprocity, as there are with 31 other states and Alabama. However, in this case, where a law has been violated, it is up to that officer to make a decision whether or not to honor that reciprocity.
If you are arrested for DUI, the
officer may opt to take the handgun. The decision is at his discretion and may
depend on the attitude you display.
A license holder must abide by the
handgun laws in another state when they travel.
Alabama’s gun laws lean toward being gun-friendly, according to a ranking by Guns & Ammo. Not only is it fairly easy to obtain a concealed weapons permit, but training is not required. Anyone age 19 or older can purchase a handgun and private sellers are not required to conduct a background check.
Licensed gun dealers are prohibited
from selling to anyone with a criminal conviction such as murder, rape,
robbery, manslaughter, kidnapping and any class A or B felony.
Florida does not allow open carry of
firearms unlike Alabama and has more gun restrictions.
Unfortunately, in Alabama, a DUI conviction cannot be expunged. It stays on the record forever. It doesn’t matter whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony.
In Alabama, if you are convicted for DUI, probation will last for two years for a misdemeanor and five years for felony. During the probation, the offender must complete a Court Referral Program, which is an alcohol abuse prevention program. There may be a follow-up period of alcohol or drug screening. A jail sentence may be imposed if the defendant fails an alcohol or drug screen.
Immediately following your DUI arrest, call Smith & McGhee for a consultation at 332-377-1674.
We will work for you representing your needs at a hearing and help you avoid suspension of your license. Time is of the essence after a DUI charge and we are standing by waiting to help you build a strong defense.