Getting charged with a DUI case can be a very stressful ordeal. In addition to the confusing legal ramifications, the embarrassment and regret that can accompany the charges can make for a tough situation for any offender, no matter how aggravated or mitigated the case is. As drunk driving defense lawyers, here are some common patterns we see in these cases.
1) Be Polite and Respectful. Any time an officer ever pulls you over, it is in your best interest be polite and respectful, even if you disagree with the officer’s actions. Any belligerence, yelling, and name calling will not only be documented in the officer’s final report, but it may be the difference between going home with a citation and having to spend a night in jail. Attitude matters.
2) Less is More. While it is best to be polite and cooperative, you don’t want to cooperate so much as to waive your constitutional rights. When an officer asks “How much did you have to drink,” make no mistake- you are at that point being interrogated. A good response to any questioning by the police is “I have an attorney, and I would rather not answer any of your questions without consulting with him first.” Don’t try to talk your way out of it- this rarely works.
3) Roadside Tests are Not Your Friend. There is a myth out there that if you pass the standard field sobriety tests (also called roadside tests) that you will be allowed to go on your way. The reality is that by the time the officer has a DUI suspect out of their car doing roadside tests, the officer has most likely already made the decision that you will be arrested. The roadside tests serve as a way to bolster the officer’s case. Guess who decides whether or not you passed the test? The officer who already thinks you’re drunk does. In many cases, these tests are not videotaped. In most states there is no penalty for refusing to do roadside tests, so the best advice is to refuse roadside testing, since it can only hurt you.
4) Refusing the Chemical Test- Not a Good Idea. You can refuse to submit to a chemical test of your blood or breath, but there are usually harsh consequences for doing so. In most states, refusing a chemical test will result in revocation of your driver’s license. A prosecutor can also use the refusal against you in court by arguing that the only reason a person would refuse to comply with chemical testing is to hide his intoxication.
5) Getting a DUI Doesn’t Make You a Bad Person. The reality is that even for responsible drinkers, people make mistakes. In most states, a DUI is a misdemeanor offense, not a felony. Most first time offenders do not have to do jail time. As long as the offender takes the case seriously and obeys all probation and court orders, a DUI is something that anyone can bounce back from.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Hebets & McCallin for their insight into DUI cases.