There are steps that you can take as a driver to have a positive influence on a driving under the influence (DUI) arrest. Remember, the things you say and do may have an impact on whether you are arrested in the first place and how strong of a case law enforcement has against you, should the prosecuting attorney press formal charges.
Every case is different, but we can offer the following tips in the form of "dos and don'ts" to help you make informed choices.
DUI Arrest "Dos"
1. Do Realize You’re Under Observation
If you’re pulled over on suspicion of DUI, remember that you’re under observation. The officer will be watching you and listening to you to try to establish probable cause for an arrest.
Observations that can prove detrimental to a driver's case may include bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, statements about drinking or fumbling around for license and registration information. Keep your speech clear and movements intentional and realize that you are being watched.
2. Do Cooperate
If you are aggressive and rude when dealing with a law enforcement officer, you face a greatly increased risk of arrest and even additional charges for resisting arrest or a similar offense. Be polite and cooperative.
3. Do Ask for Everything to be Recorded
It’s usually more helpful to have a recording of a DUI stop and arrest than to try to discern what occurred based on the arresting officer's testimony pitted against the driver's. Audio and visual recordings may contain evidence of a botched field sobriety test or may show that a driver was not displaying behavior that indicated intoxication as an officer claims. If possible, ask for everything to be recorded using whatever equipment the officer may have available.
4. Do Agree to a Chemical Test
In California, there are harsh consequences to refusing a breath or blood test after a DUI arrest. If you’re arrested for DUI, we recommend that you submit to a chemical test. A blood test is preferable because the blood sample must be stored, meaning, it can be independently reviewed. Breath tests are notoriously inaccurate and cannot be tested again later.
DUI Arrest "Don'ts"
1. Don’t Answer Questions
If you’re pulled over, the officer will most likely ask you how much you have had to drink and when. If you answer these questions, you may be giving the officer information he or she will use to make an arrest. Politely refuse to answer such questions.
You have the right to remain silent. If you are asked these questions after your arrest, realize that your right to an attorney and your right to remain silent have been invoked. Ask for your attorney before you say anything that could be used against you.
2. Don’t Submit to Field Sobriety Tests
You are not legally required to submit to field sobriety tests, which may include the one-leg stand, the walk-and-turn and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN). If an officer asks you to perform these tests, you can politely refuse.
3. Don’t Submit to a Portable Breath Test
An officer may ask you to submit to a roadside breath test using a portable breath testing device called a preliminary alcohol screening test (PAS). Unless this is an actual “post-arrest” chemical test, do not agree to a “pre-arrest” PAS test.
Please note that if you are arrested for DUI and refuse to take a chemical test, your license will be suspended automatically. So, if you are arrested for DUI, opt for a blood test because it’s more reliable than a breath test.
4. Don’t Consent to a Search
Unless you have already been arrested, you do not have to agree to a search of your person, your purse, your belongings or your vehicle. If an officer asks to perform a search, politely refuse.
Because every scenario is different, it is important to work with a knowledgeable legal professional who can guide you through the aftermath of a DUI stop and arrest.
For more insight regarding your case, contact an Orange County DUI lawyer at the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. We are experienced lawyers who have the resources to fight for drivers' rights at their DMV hearings and in criminal court proceedings related to both misdemeanor and felony DUI cases.