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DUI's And The Rights You Never Knew You Had

Posted by on August 23, 2015 at 12:00 AM

Finding yourself in a situation where you have been pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) can be a very frantic experience. Remaining calm and knowing what rights you have will assist in your DUI defense, helping to reduce or possibly dismiss your charge altogether. Below we will discuss what to do during a DUI stop and what your rights are.

1. Do Not Volunteer Information

You should never voluntarily provide information to an officer. People often believe that providing information to an officer will somehow get them on the officer’s good graces, and as a result somehow get out of the DUI. This will not be the case, and any information you voluntarily provide to the officer will be used against you.

When pulled over on suspicion of DUI, you are only legally required to provide identification, proof of insurance, and other documentation in California. You have the right to decline to answer any other questions the officer asks you without an attorney present. It is important to note that refusing to answer simple questions that an officer may ask you can lead to the officer finding you to be uncooperative. However, there is nothing illegal about doing so. Remember it is your right to answer or refuse to answer the officer’s questions, and a choice that only you must make.

2. Do Not Submit to a Field Sobriety Test

As long as you are older than 21 years of age, you should politely decline to take any field sobriety tests. These often include walking in a straight line and balancing on one leg in front of the officer. Field sobriety tests are voluntary. However, officers usually fail to inform a person of their right to refuse the test. Taking a field sobriety test will rarely actually help you, as the officer can still arrest you if he or she believes that you are under the influence and impaired to drive, regardless of if you submit to the test or not. Refusal to comply with these field sobriety tests cannot be used against you. However, if you fail the test, it may be used to arrest you. Thus, it usually does more harm than good for you.

3. Implied Consent to Take a Chemical Test

After an officer requests that you take a field sobriety test, the next step is for he or she to ask you to submit to a chemical test. There are three possible chemical tests administered in California. They are a breath, blood or urine test.

Can You Refuse a Preliminary Breath Test?

California’s “implied consent” law states that you consent to submitting to a preliminary roadside breath test (breathalyzer), even if you have not been arrested. The officer will use the results from this test to establish probable cause that you are under the influence and proceed to arrest you. You do not have to take a preliminary breath test when not under arrest. However, refusing to take the test will not likely work to your advantage if the officer has some other reason to think that you are under the influence (IE. Smelling alcohol on your breath and/or having blood shot eyes). If the officer proceeds to arrest you, then you legally must submit to a chemical test as described in the next paragraph.

Taking a Chemical Test Once Under Arrest

California law requires you to take a breath or blood test if you are arrested for a DUI. California’s “implied consent” law states that if you are lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe that you have been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then you consent to taking a chemical test of you breath, blood or urine for the purpose of determining your blood alcohol content (BAC). The test must be taken at the time of arrest, and the officer must give you a choice between a breath or blood test.

What happens if I Refuse a Chemical Test When Under Arrest?

If you are arrested, you should be told by the officer that refusal of submitting to a chemical test will result in you being fined, your license suspended, and that you could be sent to jail if you are later convicted of a DUI. You do not have a right to speak to an attorney until after you have submitted or refused to submit to a chemical test.

In California, the penalties for refusing to take a blood, breath or urine test start with a one-year suspension of your license if this is your first refusal.

4. Be Cooperative When Taken into Custody

After you have been placed under arrest, you should be as cooperative as possible. This means that it is in your best interest to submit to a chemical test. Remember, that you have no right to an attorney until after you have submitted to or refused a chemical test.

5. Contact a Lawyer

You should contact a DUI attorney as soon as possible. At Hundal Legal Group LLP, we will advise you of your rights and responsibilities, prepare your defense and contest any license suspension with the DMV.

Contact us today if you have been arrested for DUI and need legal assistance to resolve your case. This information does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney client relationship*

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