You hear sirens in the back and one glance confirms blue lights in your rear view mirror. Getting pulled over by the police is never a welcomed experience but this time is especially unnerving. You just left a business cocktail hour and due to a stressful day at the office, you indulged in a few more drinks than usual. It’s possible that this could end in a DUI charge.
At Hill Duvernay & Associates, we always advocate for responsible driving practices. And today that is even easier between taxis and car services such as Uber. However, if you do find yourself in a situation like the one above, it’s important that you understand your rights.
There are three very important tips to keep in mind when you are confronted by police.
1. You have the right to remain silent.
Television may be the reason why many people ignore this advice. It’s become so commonplace to hear on our favorite cop shows that many of us now naturally tune it out. But the statement is true and very powerful.
You have the RIGHT under United States Law to refrain from saying anything. The police cannot force you to make a statement. So do yourself a favor and in order to avoid potential self-incrimination, don’t hesitate to invoke this right if needed.
2. You have the right to refuse a field sobriety test.
That is correct. You can refuse to blow into a breathalyzer, complete a walk and turn, or complete any other sobriety test that an officer may conduct if he or she suspects you are driving under the influence.
Be cautious and understand your state’s laws before refusing to take a field sobriety test. Some states have no penalties, while others can result in fines and license suspensions separate from whether you are or are not found guilty of DUI charges.
Lastly, understand that the refusal to take a test may lead to you being taken back to the station. At the station a post arrest test can be administered. In some states if you refuse to take this test it can immediately result in a license suspension. However, it is all about analyzing your risk. If you believe your results will come back above the acceptable range (which is always a likely outcome), a temporary license suspension may be worth it for you. Again, know your state’s laws in advance but remember you do have the right to refuse.
3. You have the right to an attorney.
Not only do you have the right to an attorney but you should exercise that right. As attorneys, we know the administrative procedures and legal nuances that many people are unaware of that could help in even the most “hopeless” situations.
Even if you believe you are guilty and a blood test confirms that you were above the legal drinking limit, an attorney can potentially help you secure a plea bargain. This is especially true if an officer administered the test improperly. Depending on your results, it is possible that you can reduce your charges to reckless driving versus a DUI. Details only visible to a trained professional can have a huge impact on fines, license suspensions, your insurance rates and potentially future employment.
Even if you cannot afford an attorney, the State MUST provide you with one. Remember you have a RIGHT to an attorney, and this right exists before you give a blood or urine test. Exercise your right.
We hope you find the above tips helpful but the best tip of all is to practice safe driving. A $30 cab ride is only pennies in comparison.
Disclaimer: The content relayed in this blog article is purely informational and should not be construed as legal advice. No attorney/client relationship is created until a retainer agreement is executed by both client and attorney.