Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is strongly frowned upon by the law. This is because such a driver is assumed to not be in the right state to make decisions that affect both their safety and that of other road users. With the increasing frequency of drunk driving accidents, states across the U.S. have agreed on a Blood Alcohol Concentration level which is deemed legal, you can find more about these levels from your criminal defense lawyer. Drivers who are stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence may be subjected to the field sobriety test which gives an account of the level of alcohol in the blood of the driver.
For most states, a consensus of 0.08% has been agreed upon for private drivers and 0.04% for commercial drivers. Getting arrested for DUI doesn’t just happen as in most cases, the police officer may have pulled the driver for other offenses which may include running the red light, speeding, swerving on the road, cutting another driver off or other traffic offenses.
The officer may, however, in the aftermath of pulling the driver off the road decide to test for their BAC level based on suspicions which may be established by slurred speed, incomprehensible sentences and other signs of drunkenness.
Dealing With Police Stop
Getting flagged down by the police can be a traumatizing experience. Many drivers have reported anxiety at the moment when they were pulled over. However, whether you have been driving under the influence or not, there is a need for you to stay calm and ensure that you remain polite with the police officer. When approached, it is recommended that you keep your hands on the steering wheel where the police officer can see them and avoid making any sudden moves. In addition, the police officer, by law, is entitled to request important information like your driver’s license and vehicle registration. The police officer, however, is not legally allowed a response to a leading question such as whether or not you have been at a party or bar and whether you have had a few alcoholic beverages.
Once pulled over, you want to ensure that the conversation is kept as short as possible as this also reduces the chances of further reinforcing the suspicions of the police officer.
It is essential that you keep a tab of the events leading to you getting pulled over as this may prove important for your defense, especially if you end up getting arrested for driving under the influence.
Can You Refuse Sobriety Test?
When an officer of the law has pulled you over for going above the speed limit, running the red light or other traffic violations, the officer can grow suspicious of your ability to make conscious decisions and thus may decide to subject you to a field sobriety test. The field sobriety test, using breathalyzer or some other form of test is aimed at determining whether you are indeed incapable of being behind the wheel and operating the vehicle.
However, you may choose not to subject yourself to the field test based on a number of reasons. While the field test may be inaccurate, it is important to note that you have no choice but to submit to a more accurate chemical test.
For people who have chosen to reject the field sobriety test, it is important to note that there are certain penalties associated with the decision. in some states, such drivers who have refused the test may be exposed to driver’s license suspension for up to one year. Some states are however lenient and may only suspend the driver’s license for no more than six months.
The suspension of the license, however, is not a guarantee that the police department will not press further DUI charges.
If you have been arrested for drunk driving or driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, the prosecutor will as a matter of priority try to establish that your driving pattern had warranted the stop. The prosecutor may try to cite swerving, straying outside the lines, jerking, and other erratic driving patterns as part of the reasons why you were pulled over.
However, in some cases, a sober driver may make these same decisions which may have been informed by a number of reasons. A good defense attorney will, however, know how to defend the defendant by asking the arresting officer of some of the good driving habits that had been exhibited by the defendant. Driving habits like using the turn signal, making lane changes safely and obedience of traffic rules may prove to be a counterpoint to the prosecutor’s claims. It is, however, important to note that the driving pattern of the defendant alone cannot be used to establish the DUI charge.
Officers may also rely on physical indicators to pin the charge on a defendant. In some cases, indicators like slurred speech, red eyes, unsteady gait, flushed face and the odor of alcohol may be used against the driver. However, a good defense lawyer can come up with several defenses to counter these claims as an individual can exhibit one or more of these indicators even in the absence of drugs and alcohol. The defense attorney may push that the driver at the time of arrest suffered conditions like cold, eye strain, fatigue, or irritation.
If the driver or motorist had been subjected to a field sobriety test prior to arrest, then the defense attorney can also overcome these points using a variety of defense points. The defense attorney may call into question the credibility of the result, and may also note that test results on balance and coordination may have been affected by factors like the athletic ability of the driver, fatigue, clothing, and nervousness. Nervousness makes for a good defense as many people have been reported to be extremely nervous when in an encounter with the police.
When an officer had established the DUI arrest based on the use of a breathalyzer machine, the defense attorney may spring up several points to defend the interest of their client. An officer in some states, like California is expected to wait some minutes to assess the driver before determining whether or not a breathalyzer test is necessary. Failure to follow the set steps may lead to a valid defense that may see the case upturned and dismissed. In addition, the breathalyzer may also be deemed to have produced a skewed result based on the deep lung air which may have affected the result.
In general, DUI defense attorneys can defend clients in all cases of DUI arrests and charges, making sure that the best interest of their clients is protected.