What To Do If You Are Pulled Over For Suspected DUI
Okay, so you have been pulled over by a police officer. The officer has already asked for your license and registration, which you are required to provide, and begins to inquire about your recent alcohol consumption. Asking how many drinks you had tonight, the officer suspects that you might be intoxicated. What do you do?
Because the Fifth Amendment protects you from self-incrimination, you have the right to refrain from answering any and all questions that the police officer asks you. This means that you do not have to tell the officer how many drinks you had. You do not have to answer the interrogating questions. If you are afraid that you might slur your words or fear your nervousness will cause your speech to stumble, you have the right to remain completely silent or cite your right to refrain from speaking. If you do not say anything, the officer can't testify later in court that you were slurring when he pulled you over. Your refusal to speak can not be held against you.
Do NOT get out of your car unless the officer asks you to do so. First of all, police officers tend to get very defensive if you jump out of the car when they pull you over. The officer doesn't know if you are armed or what your intentions are when you suddenly flee your vehicle, therefore it is not wise to give them the wrong idea. If the officer orders you to get out of the car and asks you to perform any number of field sobriety tests, you are not required to complete any of these tests.
Field sobriety tests are NOT the same as chemical testing which is discussed below. Field sobriety tests check for coordination and balance--acts people don't normally perform sober or drunk--can set you up for failure. In most states, you are not required by law to complete these tests and refusal to comply cannot be held against you. While these strange exercises are called “tests” to give them the feel of authority, they are merely subjective tests which are performed to give the police officer more “proof” that you are under the influence. No matter how well you perform these “tests” they can be manipulated and used against you in a court of law. Why incriminate yourself through ridiculous roadside stunts?
The breathalyzer is a device used by the police to determine your blood alcohol content. The accuracy of these tests is suspect. They do not always provide correct information about one's level of intoxication. All states have what is called an Implied Consent Law . The government has decided that when you obtain a driver's license, it is a privilege that comes with certain implicit obligations. By obtaining a license, you (unknowingly) have agreed to submit to chemical testing of your blood, breath, or urine, at the request of a police officer. If you refuse to comply with chemical testing, such as the Breathalyzer, you will receive automatic vehicle sanctions. Usually your license will be automatically suspended for failure to comply with chemical testing.
Currently all states, besides Nevada, automatically revoke a person’s license for refusing to submit to chemical testing. Some states have enacted harsher penalties—including jail time and revoked registration—for refusing to submit to chemical testing. In some cases, however, it may be in your best interest to refuse DUI breath tests and other chemical testing to avoid harsher penalties or inaccurate results. You may wish to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney in your area about your state’s laws and the best way to approach chemical testing.
So you may submit to chemical testing of your blood, breath, or urine. While there are benefits and drawbacks to each method of chemical testing, breath tests tend to be the least reliable method. Blood tests tend to be the most fair and accurate tests, though these are not always offered to a suspect. If a chemical test shows that you have a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or greater, this is enough to prove that you are legally intoxicated and you may be arrested on criminal DUI/DWI/OUI charges. There are circumstances where a lower BAC may elicit a DUI arrest.
While you must submit to chemical testing, these tests are not infallible and do not necessarily mean you will be convicted of a DUI. If you are charged with a drunk driving offense, it is vital that you speak with a qualified and experienced attorney as soon as possible. In some cases a DUI attorney can have the record of your chemical testing suppressed so that it is not even presented as evidence in your case. Your DUI attorney may be able to show that your chemical test was not accurate and have the results deemed inadmissible in your case. In any case, it is wise to have a competent and experienced DUI attorney on your side. To learn more about drunk driving and DUI laws in your area, please contact a qualified DUI attorney near you.
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