If you’re being stopped by police for a DUI in the state of California, the first thing you should do is slow down and pull over. Turn off the car, and roll down your window. Keep your hands where the officer can see them, preferably on the steering wheel.
When the officer asks for your license and registration, be sure to remain calm and refrain from making any sudden movements when handing them over. Although you may be nervous, you don’t want the officer to think you present a threat.
Remember to remain respectful and polite, even if the officer is not or you end up being arrested. Being rude or insubordinate will only hurt your case and your defense strategy.
You Have the Right to Remain Silent
You may be tempted to chat up the officer in the hopes of getting in their good graces. Or perhaps you’re just a nervous talker. However, it is important to remember that the officer is not your friend. They are trained to ask you questions designed to get you to incriminate yourself.
Plus, they wouldn’t have taken the time to pull you over unless they thought there existed the possibility to make an arrest. While you may think it’s a good idea to tell the officer that “yes, I’ve had a few beers, but it’s okay because my house is right down the road”…it’s not okay. Now, the officer has a reason to test your BAC (blood alcohol content).
In the state of California, if you have a BAC of 0.08%, you are intoxicated as defined by the law, and the officer is within their rights to arrest you. Here at the Simmrin Law Group, we have an experienced legal team that is well equipped to handle every kind of DUI case in the state of California. Let us help you start planning your defense with a free consultation.
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Answering a Direct Question
Of course, while you now know not to make small talk with the officer, they will still ask you direct questions. In that case, how should you respond? Consider some of the more frequently asked questions, and their appropriate responses, below.
“Do You Know Why I Pulled You Over?”
Don’t ask something incriminating, like “because I was speeding?” Instead, say something neutral, like “No, officer. Can you please tell me?”
“Have You Had a Drink Today?”
Most people who have been drinking will try to undersell it. They’ll say something, like “yes, but I only had two beers at a party a few hours ago.” Now you have not only admitted that you’ve been drinking, but you also gave the officer a rough timeline.
Now they are going to assume that you were even drunker when you started driving than you are now. Instead, politely refuse to answer the question, saying something, like “I’d rather not answer any questions, officer. Am I free to go?”
“How Much Have You Had to Drink Today?”
This question is a set-up because the officer already assumes that you are intoxicated. Even admitting that you had one glass of wine with lunch is admitting to drinking. Instead, say something like, “I’m sorry, officer, but what leads you to believe that I have been drinking?”
The takeaway here is to never admit to anything. Ever. If you confess to something, your case will be harder to defend. However, even if you have acknowledged that you were drinking, we at the Simmrin Law Group can help provide you with the best possible defense and possibly reduce the charges against you.
Field Sobriety Tests and the PAS Test Before an Arrest
You may be surprised to learn that you do not need to perform a field sobriety test. In fact, you should outright refuse it. Field sobriety tests include the standing-on-one-leg test, the follow-my-finger test, and the walk-and-turn test, among others. Even sober people have been known to fail these tests.
While you think it may hurt your case not to do them, it actually hurts your case to agree to them. You may be arrested for refusing to do these tests, but your lawyer will be able to make a stronger case for you. You should also refuse to take the PAS test, which is a breathalyzer test.
Can You Always Refuse the PAS Test?
The only two situations in which you must agree to take the PAS test before you have been arrested are if you are under the age of 21 or if you are already on DUI probation. If neither of these situations applies to you, then you are free to refuse the test and don’t have to explain your reasons for declining either.
Decline to take the tests, and decline to provide explanations, but always remain polite while doing so.
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Chemical Testing After an Arrest
While you should refuse these tests before you have been arrested, things change after an arrest has already occurred. If you have been arrested, you should comply with a request for a chemical test such as blood, urine, and breath tests.
If you do not agree to these post-arrest tests, you can face additional penalties for a DUI charge, and your case will suffer as a result.
If you have already submitted to a field sobriety test or received a negative result on a post-arrest test, our lawyers at the Simmrin Law Group can help. Give us a call today for a free consultation, with no obligation to retain our services, to find out what your next steps should be.
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Don’t Give the Officer Cause to Arrest You
The most important thing to do when you get stopped on suspicion of DUI is to not give the officer probable cause to arrest you. A police officer can not arrest you for DUI without a legitimate reason to do so. By talking excessively or submitting to field sobriety tests, you are potentially handing the officer all the probable cause they need to make a lawful arrest.
If the officer merely thinks you might be intoxicated but does not have any concrete evidence to back up this suspicion, they cannot legally arrest you for DUI. If they go ahead and arrest you anyway, an experienced DUI lawyer could successfully argue that you were wrongfully arrested and get the charges against you dismissed.
This remains true even if after the arrest, you failed the chemical test. If the arrest is determined to have been unlawful, then any evidence gathered, as a result, is also inadmissible. It is crucial to know your legal rights so that you can protect yourself and avoid criminal charges.
Don’t Let a DUI Ruin Your Life
A DUI conviction can have serious consequences that affect both your personal and professional life. You don’t have to fight these charges alone. Our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm is here for you, free of judgment and with enough experience to handle any DUI case in the state of California. Call or email us today for a free consultation.
You can use our contact form or call us today. We’re here to help. We can review your case and answer any questions that you may have. We can also advise you on your options going forward. There is no obligation to retain our services, so reach out to our DUI defense team today risk-free.