No one wants to be charged with driving under the influence, or DUI. Of course, the best way to avoid this is to never drink and drive, even if you've “only had one or two drinks.” Always place the safety of yourself and everyone else on the road first. If you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI, these suggestions will help you get through the experience.
Know your rights
You may be surprised to learn that you have the right to refuse a lot of the common things that happen when you're pulled over for a possible DUI. For example, you do NOT have to:
- Answer any of the officer's questions, such as “Have you been drinking?” or “Where are you coming from?”
- Perform any Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs)
- Blow into a portable breathalyzer at the scene
If you admit to having drinks, even just a few, you're testifying against yourself. It's better to say as few words as possible and respond to any questions with, “I have nothing to say.” However, do be polite and cooperative and hand over your license and registration when requested.
You are not required to perform any kind of sobriety test, even if the officer insists that you are. You're also not required to take a breathalyzer test at the roadside. Chances are, being asked to do these things means the decision has already been made to arrest you; and by taking these tests, which are often inaccurate, you could further incriminate yourself.
If you are arrested
It's important to remember that drunk driving is a criminal offense. Many people make the mistake of thinking a DUI citation is just like any traffic offense. It's not — while most moving violations and traffic tickets are civil infractions, DUI convictions lead to a criminal record and may carry stiff fines or jail time.
While you have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test at the scene, you will be required to blow into a breathalyzer at the police station if you're arrested. You cannot refuse this, because failure to comply is a crime by itself. You also can't demand to have a lawyer present for a station breathalyzer test.
Consult an attorney immediately
If you are arrested for DUI, you should contact an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as possible. You will want to speak with an attorney at the very first opportunity, so you can convey as much detail about the incident and arrest as possible while it's still fresh in your mind.
Vitaly Sigal, an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer, delivers aggressive defense representation for people who have been arrested for DUI and other crimes. To discuss the details of your DUI case with Mr. Sigal, contact our office today.