While everyone has a vague idea of what police do when someone appears to be driving drunk, it is usually based on what they’ve seen in movies and TV shows and few people know their rights when it comes to traffic stops related to DUIs. While this information is particularly useful for helping you protect your rights if you are pulled over for suspicion of driving drunk, it may also help you identify any rights violations police may have incurred upon you if you have already been charged with drunk driving. When used properly by a skilled San Diego DUI lawyer, this information may even enable you to win your case.
When an officer pulls you over, you are only required to provide the officer with information about your identity, proof of insurance and your car registration. If he or she asks any questions about where you were, where you were going or if you’ve been drinking, you are not obligated to answer them and, if you have been drinking, you may be better off politely declining to answer these questions.
If the officer suspects you have been driving drunk, he or she may ask you to perform a field sobriety test or to submit to a portable breathalyzer, also known as a preliminary alcohol screener (PAS) –again, you are not legally obligated to do so and if you did drink before getting on the road, you are probably better off declining. There is one important exception to this rule though and that is in the case of minors, if you are under 21 and asked to take a PAS, you are required to do so by law.
If the officer believes you are intoxicated, he or she will place you under arrest and take you to a San Diego jail. At this point you are legally required to submit to a chemical sample and refusing to submit to a blood or breath test will not help your case later on. In some cases, police may even physically force you to take a blood test.
By refusing to provide the officer with information on where you were and what you were doing and by declining the field sobriety test and the PAS, you will be helping yourself greatly by minimizing the evidence the officer will have against you. This means that even if you fail the blood or breath test, you still will have a good chance of winning your case with the help of a knowledgeable San Diego DUI attorney.
When you are released from jail, you will be given a pink notice of suspension that will serve as your temporary driver’s license until your suspension begins. The temporary license is good for 30 days, but you only have 10 days to request a DMV license suspension hearing. Your San Diego DUI defense lawyer can request the DMV hearing on your behalf. After the hearing, you will get a written decision in the mail. If you lose the hearing, the DMV will give you a date when your suspension starts. If you are convicted of a DUI in the criminal courts, you will also face a second license suspension, but that suspension may be converted to a restricted license if you take the court-mandated DUI school.
As soon as you are released from jail and given the pink notice of suspension, you need to do two things. First, write down everything you can remember from the arrest, from the words the officer used to the specifics of the DUI test you took. Even a seemingly insignificant detail might prove crucial in the case built by your San Diego DUI lawyers. Next, call a DUI attorney in San Diego as soon as possible.
Of course, even if you got this information too late, told the officer you were drinking, failed a PAS, a field sobriety test and the breathalyzer, you can still fight the charges. If the officer pulled you over without reason, for example, your San Diego DUI lawyer might be able to show that your constitutional rights were violated and that you shouldn’t be punished as a result. Even if you cannot fight the charges completely, San Diego DUI defense attorneys may still be able to get the charges reduced so you will face less severe penalties.
If you have been charged with a DUI, no matter what the circumstances, Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation with a top DUI defense lawyer in San Diego.
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