If you or a loved one sees those blue lights flashing behind you, the first thing to do is slow down and pull over inasmuch as you are legally required to do so. Turn off the engine, roll down the window and keep your hands on the steering wheel where the officer can see them. When the officer approaches and asks to see your license and registration, you will want to hand them over calmly and respectfully. Being rude or belligerent will not help your case.
The best way to avoid a DUI arrest if you have been drinking or using drugs is to use a taxi, rideshare service, or have a designated driver. However, if you get pulled over for DUI, there are a few things you need to know. The Simmrin Law Group has a few tips to avoid making mistakes if you get stopped for suspicion of DUI. If you are reading this and you or a loved one have already been arrested for DUI, one of our Los Angeles DUI lawyers can help.
You Have the Right to Remain Silent
Being polite does not, however, mean that it is a good idea to be overly chatty with the officer. Some people talk a lot when they’re nervous. Others think they can get in the officer’s good graces by being overtly friendly. It is important to remember the officer is not your friend. And they are looking for a reason to charge you.
Do not volunteer to an officer that you just left a New Year’s Eve party or that you had a few beers after work. Doing so will create probable cause for the officer to test your blood alcohol content (BAC).
If your BAC is over .08%, you are legally intoxicated as defined by California law, and the officer can place you under arrest. The BAC cutoff is only .01% if you are under 21.
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Answering Direct Questions
You know already not to volunteer information and try to make small talk with the officer. However, what should you say if they ask you a direct question? Answer politely, but do not admit anything.
Sometimes answering a question with a question works, such as when the officer asks if you know why you were stopped, you say, “No, can you tell me?” Or if they ask if you’ve been drinking, say, “Why would you ask that?” You can refuse to answer questions and ask if you are free to go. Of course, if you haven’t been drinking or using drugs, you can say so.
The main things are not to lie and not to provide incriminating statements. Even if you have not been arrested, anything you say can and will be used against you in court. However, if you’re reading this after the fact and have already admitted to drinking and driving, the legal team at the Simmrin Law Group can help you build a defense against the charges.
You Have the Right to Refuse to Take Field Sobriety Tests and/or a Breathalyzer
You may not know that you can actually refuse to take the field sobriety tests and breathalyzer. You may want to opt not to. Even sober people can fail the field sobriety tests, such as the nose-to-finger test, walking heel-to-toe, etc.
You can also refuse to take the PAS test or breathalyzer unless you are under 21 or are already on probation for DUI. Then you have to take it. You can politely decline to take these tests, as you are within your rights to do so. However, you should know that the police officer may arrest you if you refuse, as long as they have probable cause that you have been driving under the influence.
This right of refusal to take a breath, blood, or urine test only exists before an arrest. If you are arrested for DUI, you should agree to take a breathalyzer, blood alcohol, or urine test. Refusal to take these tests could result in harsher, automatic penalties if you are convicted of DUI.
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A DUI Charge Should Not Be Taken Lightly
When you face a potential charge for a DUI, it is important to keep in mind that a DUI conviction will carry harsh penalties, even for a first offense. Driving under the influence can result in jail time, significant fines, your license being suspended, mandatory attendance of DUI classes, and the installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
When there are aggravating factors like if your BAC was over 0.15% or if someone was injured as a result of your actions, the penalties can increase significantly. Additionally, if this is not your first DUI offense, you will receive a more severe sentence than first-time offenders.
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The Results of DUI Tests Can Be Challenged in Court
Refusing to take a chemical test after an arrest is never a good idea, as it is likely to increase your penalties. Instead, keep in mind that these tests can be challenged in court. There are many possibilities for questioning the validity of a chemical test in a DUI case.
Your lawyer can challenge the accuracy of the equipment used, whether the test was properly administered, whether the chain of custody was followed properly, and what the officer used as probable cause for administering the test.
If the court concludes that there was not sufficient evidence for administering the test or that any part of the testing system was at fault, the results of the test can be thrown out. Attempting to convict a defendant of DUI without the assistance of chemical testing evidence makes life a lot harder for the prosecutor.
Contact a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If you’ve been arrested and charged with DUI, it’s vital that you consult a Los Angeles DUI lawyer immediately. Whatever the circumstances of your case are, you need a DUI lawyer working with you to help make sure you get the best possible outcome for you and your family.
If you or a loved one has been accused of DUI, you need an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer on your side. Call the Simmrin Law Group or use our contact form to schedule a free case evaluation. We’re available to help you 24/7. Do not talk to the police until you’ve spoken with us!