Being pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence in California can be a frightening experience. However, there are a few things you can do during the traffic stop that can help you in the event you are arrested.
Do not volunteer any information to the police officer. You are required to provide identification, insurance, and other documentation in California, but you may decline to answer any other questions without an attorney present.
If you are over 21, 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. These tests are not required under California law, and will rarely help you. Keep in mind that refusal to comply to these subjective tests cannot be held against you. Also, you may consider declining to take a roadside handheld breath test, as the law does not require these for individuals who are older than 21.
If the officer believes that you are intoxicated, you will probably be arrested, regardless of the results of any roadside tests. For example, under California law it is possible for a police officer to arrest you on suspicion of DUI even if a breathalyzer shows your blood alcohol content (BAC) is below the legal limit.
Once at the station, it is generally in your best interest to then take a chemical test. These tests are either a sample of your breath, urine, or blood. If you refuse, your driver’s license will be suspended. Keep in mind that you have no right to an attorney at this point, and will not until after you have taken, or refused to take, a chemical test.
Contact a DUI/DWI lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced California attorney can advise you of your rights and responsibilities, prepare your defense, and contest any license suspension with the DMV.