Being pulled over after consuming alcohol or, after taking medication, can be a highly stressful interaction between you and the police. If you understand the procedure that police are supposed to follow and know what your rights are, you can help minimize some of the stress you may encounter and potentially help yourself avoid a DUI conviction.
1. Do I have to answer questions from law enforcement?
ANSWER: You do not have to answer questions, but you still can be arrested if the officer believes he has probable cause to arrest you for a DUI.
Do not feel obligated to tell the officer where you are coming from, where you are going, how much you have had to drink or eat, or if you have taken prescription medications. All of this information will only hurt you.
2. What is a field sobriety test and do I have to perform them?
ANSWER: A field sobriety test (FST) is administered and evaluated to obtain indicators of impairment to establish probable cause for a DUI arrest.
There are several types of FST’s. Only 3 of them have been scientifically validated based on research. Those are the horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn, and one leg stand.
An officer has most likely already made his mind up whether he is going to arrest you for DUI before requesting you to participate. When an officer observes cues, or indicators of impairment, that provides the officer with validation for their decision to arrest and is additional evidence that can be used against you.
You are not required by law to perform any FST’s. Often times, it may be in your best interest to politely decline to participate in performing an FST. If you do not perform FST’s, you can still be arrested for DUI. It is important for you to know that a prosecutor may argue to the jury that the reason you are declining to perform FST’s is that you are aware or conscious of your guilt (that you know you were DUI) and that the jury can consider that when determining whether you are guilty or not. In most circumstances, it is better to not perform FST’s so that their will be less evidence that can be used against you. A skilled DUI defense attorney knows the tactics prosecutors use and is able to navigate around those pitfalls.
3. What is a breathalyzer test and do I have to take it?
ANSWER: A breathalyzer is a device for estimating blood alcohol content (BAC) from a breath sample. In California, the device is called a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) device. This device is used at the scene of the police contact often right before an officer arrests an individual.
An officer is required by law to inform you that you do not have to take this test.
You are not required by law to take this test and should not take this test. An officer is not required to show you the results of the machine. Even if you were to blow under a 0.08% BAC, you can still be arrested for DUI as an officer may say that you were still too impaired to drive.
4. What is a chemical test and am I required to take one?
ANSWER: A chemical test is used to determine a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) either directly (blood sample) or indirectly (breath). Blood tests are the most accurate of the tests. Because of the technology used to convert a breath sample that contains alcohol into a comparable blood alcohol content number, flaws and errors in the machine can create inaccurate test results.
By obtaining a California driver’s license, you have already consented to take a chemical test if arrested for a DUI. YOU MUST TAKE A CHEMICAL TEST OR YOUR LICENSE WILL BE SUSPENDED FOR ONE YEAR BY DMV.
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