What to Do if Stopped for a DUI
Although Thomas Law Firm, PLC does not condone drinking and driving, we often provide our clients with tips on what to do if they have been pulled over for a suspected DUI, whether or not they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In Arizona, it is illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The legal limit of the amount of alcohol that can be in your system while driving is under .08, however, what people fail to realize is that even if you are under .08, you can still be convicted of a DUI if it is proven that you were impaired to the slightest degree. The actual level of alcohol in your BAC can determine what type of DUI you are charged with (slightest degree, DUI, extreme DUI, super extreme DUI, etc.) and can also play a significant role in determining your sentence. It is important to remember that the minimum sentence for a DUI conviction still carries jail time.
Before the officer pulls you over, the officer has been watching and observing you. If a police officer pulls directly behind you, it is important for you to not panic and continue driving cautiously. If he turns on his lights and you proceed to pull over, do so safely. Remember, that the police officer is watching you and looking for signs of impairment, even before making personal contact with you. When the officer approaches you, they are trained to assess things such as, whether or not you have blood shot watery eyes, the odor of alcohol, the odor of drugs, slurred speech, etc. These things will be written down in the police report and may be used against you in court.
It is important to be as cordial as possible and promptly give your license, registration, and insurance to the officer. You need to remain calm because during this time, the officer will be looking for any signs of impairment. What you tell the officer can also be used against you in court. Therefore, you should limit the amount of conversation you have with officer and avoid making any admissions to drinking or using drugs. If the officer asks you questions, you can politely invoke your right to an attorney and remain silent. If the officer asks you to exit the vehicle and begins performing field sobriety tests (such as following the pen with your eyes, walking a straight line, etc.), you should politely invoke your right to have an attorney present before performing such tests.
You do not have any legal obligation to perform the field sobriety tests or conduct the portable breath test. You can deny performing the above tests and ask for your right to speak to an attorney. If the officer believes that you are impaired, you will be arrested and taken down to the police station, where they will want to obtain a blood sample or a breath sample (not the same breath sample as the portable one they get from their vehicle). However, if you refuse to give a blood sample, the officer will obtain a warrant and take your blood regardless. You will then lose your license for one year, regardless if you are later not convicted of a DUI, per the Arizona Implied Consent component that you agree to when obtaining your driver’s license.
To recap, the last thing that you want to do when pulled over for DUI is get out of the vehicle, answer all of the police officer’s questions, and partake in the field sobriety tests.
If you or someone that you know has been arrested and charged with DUI contact us at 602-314-4333 for a free consultation. It is important to have a knowledgeable attorney fighting on your behalf.
*Thomas Law Firm, PLC does not condone driving under the influence nor does it constitute a legal relationship with the attorney. This blog is educational in purpose to help you understand your rights.
Photo by Mission Viejo Patch, a source of City News Service