If you are pulled over after enjoying a few drinks, you might think it’s best to just be honest and open with the police officer to show that you have nothing to hide and are totally in control and, thus, unintoxicated. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking is a lot more likely to leave you facing a DUI charge than if you just remained silent about your alcohol consumption. And this is only one of the many mistakes people commonly make when they are pulled over after drinking. While a good San Diego DUI lawyer can help you fight the charges against you no matter what the specifics of your case, it will be a lot easier to defend you if you do not make any of these mistakes:
- Offering up more information than necessary. We already touched upon this in the intro, but it’s one of the biggest mistakes people make when pulled over. The only information you are legally required to give is that related to your identity, along with your DMV registration and insurance information. When an officer starts asking about where you have been and if you’ve been drinking, politely tell him that you are invoking your fifth amendment right to silence.
- Taking on-site tests. You are legally required to submit to a chemical test if you are arrested, but you are not required to take a field sobriety test or a preliminary alcohol screening (a portable breathalyzer device). Taking these tests will not help your case and will only offer the prosecution more evidence of your guilt if the case goes to court. If you are asked to take these, politely decline. Note that if you are under 21, you are legally obligated to take a preliminary alcohol screening when an officer requests you to.
- Refusing a chemical test. When you get your license, you sign a document stating that you will take a chemical DUI test if asked. Refusing to take a blood test or breathalyzer after a DUI arrest will result in a mandatory one-year license suspension and the prosecution may end up charging you with refusal to take a chemical test, which carries a mandatory jail sentence. Additionally, you may still be forced to take a blood test if the police obtain a telephonic search warrant from a judge.
- Waiting to contact a San Diego DUI attorney. As soon as you are released, you should first write down everything you remember from the incident as even the smallest detail can be critical in your case. The next thing you should do is contact a San Diego DUI lawyer.
- Not fighting the DMV license suspension. Part of the reason it is so critical to contact a DUI lawyer in San Diego as soon as possible after a drunk driving arrest is because you only have ten days to file for a hearing with the DMV to fight your license suspension. This hearing is very important not only because it provides you a chance to protect your driving privileges, but also because it affords you and your San Diego DUI attorney an opportunity to hear the evidence against you and fight the accusations. Think of it as a practice trial, it’s not mandatory, but it will help you immensely when the real thing comes up.
- Failing to take the charges seriously. Just because a first time DUI is only a misdemeanor doesn’t mean you should take the charges lightly. If you lose your case, you will lose your driving privileges, be forced to pay major fines, have high insurance rates for years to come and, you could even end up in jail.
If you are charged with drunk driving, it is critical you contact a San Diego drunk driving defense lawyer as soon as possible. Even if you have made a few mistakes already, a DUI attorney in San Diego, like Peter M. Liss, can help ensure you don’t make any more mistakes that can hurt your case further. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Greg Matthews