You've Been Pulled for Drinking and Driving, What Next?
The bad news came when the lights signaled behind you. Or maybe the bad news came when you realize you've drank alcohol or abused drugs and got behind the wheel.
Will you be charged with drinking and driving? How do you get out of this situation? What do you tell the officer who pulled you over? Should you take the breathalyzer test? What about other sobriety tests?
This guide answers some specific questions you may have and helps with concerns about DUI charges.
Can you get out?
DUI charges are not always made. This can be a scary position, but you have nothing to fear unless you know you've drank alcohol. There is no easy solution if you've had a few and decided to drive. This process is not a fun one. Likely you know of someone who's been charged with a DUI. This guide will now walk you through the basics.
Why are you pulled over?
You're pulled over in the first place for a variety of reasons. It may not be because the officer thinks you've been drinking at all. You may have just been speeding. However, the officer looks for things like that, especially late at night. If you are passing in and out of lanes, swerving, running through yellow lights at high speeds, and just acting erratic, police officers are trained to see these things.
What if you've been drinking?
If you've been drinking, it does not mean you are always going to get a DUI. You still have rights. The best thing you can do is never mix drinking or drugs and driving at all. If you have been drinking, even in excess, you also still have rights.
What do you tell the officer?
You do not have to tell the officer a single thing. You have a right under the Fifth Amendment to not say anything which will incriminate you. If you're afraid by speaking that you will sound drunk, you need not speak. If you are very nervous, this is understandable. You need not give the officer any information. It may seem suspicious, but it's your legal right.
What about the breathalyzer?
Nevada is currently the only state which will not revoke your license if you refuse a breathalyzer. All other states will punish you for refusing it, some with very severe charges. Usually you want to take the breathalyzer. However, breath tests are suspect. Simply because you breath at the legal limit, .08%, does not mean you are in fact that intoxicated. Breathalyzers are subject to human error. So are blood tests, but blood tests are by far the most accurate.
Also, you should be aware of your rights concerning other sobriety tests. Most state laws have nothing saying you must walk in a straight line, count backwards, or any other field test. To be sure, ask the officer who pulled you over if you will be punished for denying to take sobriety field tests. The majority of the time not taking has no affect you at all.
What if you're charged?
You're pulled over, the officer asks you some questions but you answer none, and then you fail the breathalyzer. This case is far from over. If you're charged, you need the help of a professional DUI lawyer. DUI charges are not always in the right. Just because your breath test fails does not mean you'll lose your license, face fines, or even jail time. An experienced lawyer is your best chance for justice.