Steps To Take If Charged With a DUI
DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence. It is a serious criminal offense and should not be dismissed as insignificant. It can carry severe penalties, especially if the charge is a felony DUI because prison can result.
Most DUIs are misdemeanors, but if a crash results, the party is charged with a felony DUI offense. Felony or aggravated DUIs result from drivers who flee accident scenes or cause serious injury or death as a result of a crash they caused due to drinking. Because of the potential for jail time and hefty fines, many think it prudent to consult with and/or retain legal counsel to best navigate defense of the DUI.
Steps to follow if pulled over for DUI
There are some prudent steps that DUI attorneys advise if you are pulled over by police and placed under arrest for DUI:
- Identify a safe location to pull over. The arresting officer is observing how you pull over, and his notes will become part of your file. Don’t pull over to an unsafe location or slow down too hastily. Don’t drive erratically.
- No hasty movements. Officers will be cautious, alert and seek to protect themselves. They will approach your car from behind to have a clear view. Keep your hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 12 o’clock, and don’t make sudden or hasty movements.
- Behave politely. If you treat the arresting officer with respect and politeness, you may not ultimately be arrested. Don’t behave rudely or with hostility. Don’t resist instructions from the police unless it regards field testing (see below).
- Mum’s the word when asked incriminating questions. Try not to answer any possible incriminating questions from police. At the same time, do not tell a lie. In stressful situations, police know that drivers are likely to incriminate themselves. You are required to release your name, driver’s license and vehicle registration to the officer, but if asked whether you have been drinking and, if so, how much, you can refuse such questions. The best response is something akin to, “I apologize, Mr. Officer, I have been advised by counsel not to answer questions.” If you answer any questions, answer them honestly because lies will be used against you in court.
- Refuse field sobriety tests and hand-held breathalyzer tests. There is no legal requirement to perform a field sobriety test. The tests are very powerful tools for the officer to use to compile evidence against you and are highly subjective. Some argue the field tests are not a reliable indicator of intoxication. Roadside breathalyzers are also considered unreliable and skewed in outcomes. It is best to take a chemical test, whether blood test or breath test, at the police station. Many defense attorneys recommend the breath test because it is easier to attack them in court.
- Write down notes of all you can recall to assist your DUI lawyer in building your defense. Start with what you were doing before you drove, through the pull-over, arrest and any tests you took.
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Last Modified: 05-10-2011 01:43 PM PDT
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