You’re pulled over on the side of a road, with your engine turned off. The reflection of bright lights from the police car behind you irritates your eyes. The police officer on duty stands outside of both vehicles, and checks over the information listed on your license and registration. He begins asking you how many drinks you’ve had that night. Are you required to answer?
- You have the right to remain silent. The Fifth Amendment makes it completely legal for you to refrain from responding to the police officer’s inquiries. Your refusal to answer his questions cannot be held against you in a court of law, but if you choose to answer, then a prosecuting attorney can use the officer’s testimony against you. Testimonies based on slurring or stumbling perceived by a police officer can be subjective and manipulated, so it’s best to exercise your right to plead the Fifth.
- Stay inside your car unless the officer asks you to get out. Jumping out of your vehicle when a cop pulls you over can send out the wrong message. The police officer might mistakenly think that you are armed and might feel threatened. Whatever wrongdoing he suspects of you will only increase if you are not careful, so just sit still and try not to offend anybody.
- Do not consent to performing field sobriety tests if you feel uncomfortable. Field sobriety tests include having a driver suspected of being intoxicated walk a straight line, balance on one foot, touch his finger to his nose, etc. These tests check for signs of poor coordination before official chemical testing for blood-alcohol level. You are not required to take these sobriety tests if you feel they may be manipulated and used to incriminate you later. You may safely remain silent and refuse.
- Make an informed decision either to take or to refuse chemical testing. Every state has Implied Consent laws which rule that any licensed driver who chooses to operate a vehicle has automatically agreed to chemical testing requested by a member of law enforcement. Chemical testing includes breath, blood or urine tests. In most states, refusing chemical testing will automatically give prosecutors grounds to revoke your license. Sometimes the consequences are more severe. To find out whether it is better in your state to refuse or to submit to chemical testing, contact a local DUI lawyer.
Sometimes a police officer will arrest you on suspicion of a DUI even if you refuse chemical testing. Whatever the case is, consulting a DUI lawyer who has your best interest in mind will ensure that your rights are defended properly. Many citizens convicted with a DUI do not realize that there are many legal rulings designed to protect them. A DUI lawyer has experience using these protections to defend you. He or she can determine whether the test leading to your arrest was properly administered and whether the machine used to convict you was properly calibrated. With legal assistance you have the potential to save your time, money and reputation.
About the Author: Christopher McCann is an Orange County DUI lawyer and criminal defense lawyer. McCann is a practicing lawyer at the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann and generally writes on topics related to criminal defense and DUIs. McCann was voted as a “Rising Star Attorney” in 2010 by Southern California SuperLawyers Magazine.