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If you are stopped by the police for any reason, you should assume that the more you say, the more likely you are to put yourself into trouble. When a police officer stops a driver on suspicion of drunk driving, the officer is not making an arrest, but is instead investigating a possible crime. Until you’re under arrest, you don’t have any formal right to a lawyer, but at the same time, you don’t have any general obligation to incriminate yourself either. Understanding your rights when stopped by the police on suspicion of DUI can help you a great deal if you’re later arrested and charged with drunk driving.
For specific advice about the circumstances of your DUI arrest and your rights to counsel, contact the Weingart Firm. We have represented drunk driving defendants effectively for 20 years, and our experience with the technical details of DUI arrests can help you protect your rights and avoid the harsh consequences of a conviction.
The questions, field sobriety tests, and apparently polite small talk that a police officer puts a DUI suspect through are little more than attempts on the officer’s part to gather evidence against you. You must produce your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance when requested, and you must also cooperate with any search of your person that the officer might make to make sure you don’t have a weapon. Aside from that, the less you say and do, the less likely you are to give the officer a reason to continue the investigation.
For any other questions or requests for cooperation, politely but firmly ask to consult a lawyer. The police officer cannot require you to walk heel to toe along a line, count backward by sevens, or follow a penlight with your eyes if you refuse to submit to a field sobriety test. Just ask to talk to a lawyer.
Eventually, the officer will have to decide whether to release you or arrest you and compel a breath or blood alcohol test. If you are arrested, ask to speak to an attorney immediately. Although you must at some point submit to a test of your blood alcohol content, you do not need to do so until you have had an opportunity to call a lawyer and have a private conversation. Refusal to submit to a blood or breath test will not count as an implied consent violation until you have talked to an attorney, if you clearly express your intention to do so.
An important part of our work in your defense is analyzing the circumstances of the officer’s investigation. If the officer violated any of your rights by denying you access to a lawyer, by failing to remind you of your right to remain silent, or by gathering other evidence against you in violation of your constitutional rights, we’ll be able to spot those violations and use them to suppress the evidence of DUI, which can lead to your case being dismissed. Until you’re under arrest, however, it’s up to you and within your rights to say and do as little as possible.
If you’ve been stopped for DUI, you can reach us by phone any time of the day or night, any day of the week. We’ll advise you precisely of what to do to limit or eliminate the chance that you’ll unwittingly provide evidence against yourself. For more information about your rights, contact the Weingart Firm in the Phoenix area for a free consultation