In California, the police can pull you over for a DUI investigation after a traffic violation if there’s something wrong with your vehicle or if you were driving in a manner to suggest operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The police only require you to showcase objective signs of intoxication to stop you and initiate a DUI investigation. In the short period you will be speaking to the officers, they will be looking for more reasons to arrest and charge you with DUI. That is why it is essential to know what to do once you are stopped for a DUI. Here are some actions you should consider taking.
When the police pull you over for whatever reason, you must stop. Law enforcement officers do not just stop motorists for no reason. Stopping as instructed shows that you are law-abiding and are willing to listen to what the officer has to say.
Again, refusing to stop or evading a police officer while the officer is in the line of his/her duty is a criminal offense in California. If the police already suspect you of operating while intoxicated, you might complicate your case further by not stopping when pulled over. The judge might conclude that your refusal to stop was because you were guilty and tried to evade the criminal process.
Refusing to stop or eluding an officer is charged as a misdemeanor in California, attracting a punishment of up to six months of incarceration in jail and a fine of not more than $1,000. If you caused an accident while eluding the police or injured another person, you might be charged with a felony.
Therefore, under no circumstances must you refuse to stop when pulled over by the police. Even if you believe that the police have no reason to stop you, you must do so at their request.
Find a Safe Place To Stop
When an officer pulls you over for a DUI, he/she must have noticed something and is only trying to gather more evidence to include in his/her report. The officer’s observations will determine whether or not you’ll be charged with DUI. Thus, it is advisable to be careful how you stop your vehicle and behave afterward.
The first thing you must do is to find a safe spot to stop your vehicle. Do not be nervous while at it, and don’t stop your car anywhere. The police officer will be very keen on where you stop and how you do it. Even if you have had a drink or two a few moments before being pulled over, you must exhibit confidence as this is the only way to convince the officer that you are not a danger to other road users.
Therefore, avoid driving erratically or slowing down too quickly. Take note of the safety of the spot where you stop your vehicle. The officer will be gathering information to include in his/her report. The report will be read to a judge if you are finally arrested and apprehended in a criminal court. Your behavior at that instance might convince the officer that he/she was wrong in suspecting you of DUI. Thus, you might be allowed to drive on.
Avoid Suspicious or Sudden Movements
Police officers are usually well-trained to ensure their safety before anything else. Suspicious or sudden movements could communicate danger to the officer, prompting him/her to react in self-defense. It will also increase the officer’s suspicion regarding you operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
After pulling you over, the officer will approach your vehicle from behind, watching you keenly every second to be sure you are not a threat to his/her safety. You do not want to engage in an altercation with the police, even if you feel that the officer wrongly pulled you over. It is best to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times and wait for the officer to approach your window and ask you questions.
If the officer asks you to step out of the vehicle, do so slowly. A sudden movement will seem to the officer that you are trying to attack him/her. If you try getting too far from the officer, maybe by crouching back in embarrassment, the officer may interpret that as a feeling of guilt.
Remember that police officers are very keen on behavior changes. They are pretty observant and are quick to make interpretations of their observations. Do not give the officer a reason to believe that he/she was right in pulling you over for DUI.
Be Polite to the Officer
No one wants to be pulled over by the police, especially in the middle of the night when they are probably rushing home after a hard day. It explains why some people feel annoyed and could be rude to the officers. For some people, being rude is a defense mechanism, probably because they have been drinking and are afraid the officer might arrest them.
However, there is no need to be rude to an officer who is just doing his/her job. Again, being polite has its advantage and could work in your favor. If you treat a police officer respectfully, it becomes easier for him/her to work with you. It could also reduce your chances of an arrest. An officer who believes that you are honestly respectful will be kind enough to allow you to drive on.
Speak the truth to the officer. As previously mentioned, the officer has a valid reason why he/she stopped you for a DUI. The officer is simply looking for more evidence to arrest you. If you are insincere, the officer will take it as hiding information and arrest you for further questioning. Again, remember that providing false information could bring forth additional charges for perjury.
If the officer asks whether you have been drinking, you can decline to answer instead of lying or being hostile. Tell the officer that you politely decline to answer the question. If the police officer requests you to step outside the vehicle, comply, to avoid additional charges of resisting arrest
Avoid Giving Incriminating Information
When the police pull over a motorist for a DUI, they only have a few minutes to decide whether or not to make an arrest. Within those minutes, the officer will be looking for a more substantial cause for your arrest. He/she will be asking direct questions while also watching how you answer and conduct yourself.
First, the officer will ask to see your driver’s license and registration. He/she will be looking at how you’ll retrieve those documents. The officer will also be listening to what you’ll say to his/her request.
While looking at your documents, the officer will be asking you questions. For example, you’ll be asked how much you have had to drink and how long you’ve been drinking that night. An innocent response like “I haven’t drunk much” shows the officer how right he/she was all along and will trigger further DUI investigation.
The police can be pretty intimidating, especially if you are trying to avoid an arrest. You’ll be very nervous and anxious to get it over and done with. Thus, you might say a little too much and provide more incriminating information that could be used against you in court. Other than your name, registration, license, and insurance information, you are not obligated by law to provide more information to the police.
Tell the officer politely that your attorney has advised you not to answer any questions. The officer will put you under a lot of pressure at that time and could even arrest you and confiscate your driver’s license. But the advantage is that he/she will not have gathered incriminating information from you. It is easier to fight your charges when officers do not have enough evidence against you.
Politely Refuse to Take a Field Sobriety Test
After questioning you while you’re inside your vehicle, the officer has two decisions: allow you to drive on or ask you to submit to field sobriety testing. The officer will decide if he/she feels that you are not operating under the influence and can reach your destination with no issues.
However, if the officer feels the need to gather more evidence from you, maybe because he/she still strongly feels that you are driving under the influence, you’ll be asked to submit to DUI testing. The field sobriety test includes several activities that the officer asks you to perform to determine whether you are intoxicated. Fortunately, California law allows you to decline to take the field sobriety tests.
If you have not been drinking, but the officer still thinks you have been, you may be tempted to take the field sobriety test to prove your point. Remember that the officer will be observing your behavior all along. There is no guarantee that you’ll pass the test, even when you are sober. Other factors come into play in determining how you perform in these tests. For example, if the officer asks to march forward, how straight you’ll walk will also be determined by the walkaway’s evenness and not only by how much alcohol concentration you might have in your system.
To avoid receiving a poor score that could incriminate your situation even further, refuse to take the field sobriety test. However, it doesn’t mean that the officer cannot arrest you at that instant. The advantage is that you have not given the police more evidence to support their DUI narrative.
Refuse to Blow To a hand-Held Breathalyzer
Again, you want to avoid a situation where you are implicating yourself more. That is why it is best not to provide your breath sample when asked by the police to blow into a hand-held breathalyzer. The reason is that breathalyzers are known for their unreliability in determining a person’s BAC. They might produce a false result, which might give the police false evidence that could place you at an unfair advantage during the trial.
Refusing to provide the police with a blood sample will cause you to be arrested. The police will also confiscate your driver’s license. It could also mean to the police that you are trying to hide evidence. Therefore, the officer will arrest and take you to the station for more questioning and tests.
Fortunately, failing to provide a breath sample before arrest will not cause you additional charges. It will only cause the police to suspect you of DUI even more. You’ll realize later that it is best to lose your license at that instance than to have more evidence to fight in the trial.
If, after arrest, the police require you to take a breath sample, submit to the testing. However, observe how the police are taking those tests. Your attorney will need a detailed account to determine the best strategy to fight your charges in court.
Yield to Chemical Testing at The Police Station
The police do not automatically arrest motorists whom they pull over for DUI. They’ll only arrest you if they have more reasons to suspect you of operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Thus, the arresting officer will require you to take tests at the station to determine your BAC. It could be a breath, blood, or urine test, depending on the officer’s level of suspicion.
In most cases, the police ask DUI suspects to take a breath test to determine their BAC. It works to the suspect’s advantage because breath tests are not always accurate, and the results can be challenged in a criminal court. The police are guided by law on how to conduct these tests. For example, officers need to ensure that the breathalyzer they are using is calibrated. If not, the results could be dismissed in court.
Note that it is a criminal offense to refuse to submit to chemical testing after a DUI arrest. California has implied consent laws, which mandate motorists to take chemical tests to determine their BAC after arrest. Therefore, refusing to take the tests will lead to additional charges in your record. The consequences will be other penalties and mandatory suspension of your driver’s license.
All is not lost, though. You still have a chance to fight the results for a more favorable outcome of your case. For example, facts prove that a person can register a high BAC level if they have taken asthma medicine, have used oral gels or mouthwashes, and breath sprays. An experienced criminal defense attorney will know the right strategies to ensure you are not facing the full consequences of a DUI conviction.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
You need an experienced criminal attorney familiar with California DUI processes to take you through those processes and protect your rights. The law doesn’t mandate you to hire an attorney. You can choose to work alone and even represent yourself in court. However, court processes can be intimidating, and you might lose direction along the way. Remember that the judge will not be more lenient with you simply because you are representing yourself. To avoid more issues and ensure a smooth process, hire an experienced criminal attorney.
A DUI arrest is not a simple matter in California. If you know the consequences of a DUI conviction, you’ll be afraid of what might happen to you if you lost the case, even for a simple case. That is why you shouldn’t take any chances and only make deliberate efforts to avoid a conviction.
Your attorney will listen to you, explain your options, advise you on the right approach to use, and plan a strong defense against your charges. He/she will also be with you throughout the process to protect your rights against violation. It also feels good to know that someone with more skills and experience helps you through a difficult situation.
However, not all criminal attorneys who promise to help you in a difficult situation will deliver their promise. Consider the skills and experience an attorney has. Consider his/her track record of performance. Choose an attorney familiar with the local courts’ operations, especially the court where your case will be heard.
Find a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
With the increasing DUI cases in Los Angeles, CA, the police are now more alert than ever, arresting and charging those who violate the state’s DUI laws. It starts with being stopped for a DUI, and before you know it, you are standing before a judge answering DUI charges. If you want to avoid a conviction, be careful about what you do and not do after the police pull you over. For more information and help from an experienced criminal defense attorney, contact us at 310-564-2605. At The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, we’ll protect your rights every step of the process and work hard towards a favorable outcome of your case.