If you have been stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence it is important that you know your rights so that you can be better prepared to deal with the stressful situation. Generally, during a traffic stop that takes place in the evening an officer will ask whether you have consumed alcohol. In most situations the sole purpose of the stop is to determine if the driver has consumed alcohol. The question(s) are designed to obtain incriminating information that may later be used to charge and/or convict you of driving under the influence. This article is designed to provide you with information on your rights in the event you are stopped and questioned about whether you have consumed alcohol.
- If you are being pulled over make sure that you use your turn signal and carefully pull your vehicle over to the side of the road.
- Remain in your vehicle and keep your hands on the steering wheel. It is important to calmly wait for the police officer to approach you, do not attempt to leave your car and do not shuffle through compartments in your car without permission from the officer.
- Try and be polite.
- If the officer asks you for your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance make sure that you are able to produce them in a calm fashion. Remember that the officer will be watching your movements and seeing how you react to help determine if you are impaired.
- You have the right to remain silent, meaning that you do not have to answer any incriminating questions that the police officer asks you. You do not have to discuss where you were, what you did, who you were with, or whether you have been consuming alcohol. An officer will typically ask these questions to get you to voluntarily supply that information; however, you are well within your legal rights to politely refuse to answer those questions.
- Understand that being candid with the officer, for example, saying “I had a couple of beers” is NOT going to help you. If you are asked about drinking you are within your legal rights to decline to answer.
- Do not get out of your car unless you are asked by the officer to do so. Remember, the officer will be looking for signs of impairment such as stumbling or tripping.
- If asked to perform field sobriety tests, you can politely decline. You have no obligation to perform field sobriety tests. You also do not have to submit to a preliminary alcohol screening test. There are exceptions if you are on probation for driving under the influence or under the age of 21.
- If you are arrested for driving under the influence, California law requires you to submit to a breath or a blood test. However, the California Supreme Court has recently determined that a warrant is required to obtain a blood sample. If you do not voluntarily submit to a breath or blood test and require the officer to obtain a warrant, the DMV may suspend your license for a year or more. The DMV will likely treat this as a “refusal.”
If you have been arrested or charged with DUI it is very important that you seek the experience and skill of a Fresno DUI Attorney to represent your best interests in court to protect your rights and freedom.