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JUST FIND YOUR ANSWERS BELOW:
DURING THE STOP
- What should I do if I’m asked to take field sobriety tests?
- What should I do if I am asked to blow into a hand-held Breathalyzer?
- What do I say in response to police questions about what I’ve had to drink?
- What’s the best advice for not getting stopped?
- How are the police evaluating my behavior and actions while under investigation?
- Am I required to take a chemical test?
- Am I entitled to speak with an attorney before taking or choosing a chemical test?
- Do I have a choice of which chemical test to take?
AFTER I’M CHARGED
- Why was I charged with two crimes?
- What is the punishment for drunk driving?
- What are the merits of hiring an attorney?
- What should I look for in a qualified attorney?
- What is the typical cost of hiring a good attorney?
- Is it possible to win these cases?
- I want to learn more about the DUI/DWI charge. Where can I go for answers?
These tests are very subjective and the officer is very biased. There is no point system used to score these things and there is no check on what the officer observes and eventually writes up in his/her report. Frankly, these tests are a lose-lose situation. One good reason to give the officer for not taking the tests is say, “You’re frightening me officer and I’d rather not take these tests”. Again, don’t think that just because you’re a great athlete or you were once the state balance beam champion that you can pass these tests. They are designed for you to fail. Why not first ask the officer if you are legally required to take the tests and then, a polite, No Thank You should be your immediate response.
If you do decide to test your skills with such tricks as walking a straight line, heel to toe, going up nine steps then making a turn and walking back or standing at attention with head tilted back while trying to estimate the passing of 30 seconds, or standing with one leg slightly raised off the ground without swaying, then practice them now! By the way, law enforcement should ask you if you have any physical problems before asking you to take these tests – the suggestion is that you dig deep and come up with every possible reason that you could fail.
- Make certain that your vehicle is without mechanical problems. Your headlights and turn signals work. You aren’t discharging excessive emissions. You have legal plates and tags. Your windows aren’t tinted beyond your states legal limit.
- If you’re going to drink, EAT!; If you’re going to drink, Take a cab; If you’re going to drink, keep MINTS handy; If you’re going to drink, Don’t get in a car at a bar at 2 am in the morning and drive home – you will eventually get caught!
- When you get in your car make sure that you have a healthy supply of mints with you. Cops are going to be suspicious if you smell like Peppermint, but they’re going to ask you to exit the car for sure if you smell like alcohol.
- Don’t park your car outside of a bar if you plan to leave near closing time. Police love to lie in wait for the last call crowd to leave. Park somewhere else and take a cab to your car, walk to your car, or at least have a designated drive take you there.
- When you get into your car, take a reality check of yourself. Make believe that you are about to take off in a jet from an aircraft carrier. Make sure all systems are go: headlights on, seat belt on, windows up in cold weather and down or A/C on in warm weather. Check your attire and looks – make sure your shirt is tucked in and hair combed or neat.
- Now that you’re ready to drive here are the primary reasons that police stop drivers for suspicion of driving under the influence! Focus and Avoid these pitfalls.
- Making a wide turn
- Straddling the center of lane marker
- “Appearing to be drunk”
- Almost striking object or vehicle
- Driving on other than designated highway
- Speed more than 10 mph below limit
- Stopping without cause in traffic lane
- Following too closely
- Tires on center or lane marker
- Braking erratically
- Driving into opposing or crossing traffic
- Signaling inconsistent with driving actions
- Slow response to traffic signals
- Stopping inappropriately (other than in lane)
- Turning abruptly or illegally
- Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
- No headlights on at night
As you can see, none of these “indicators” would get you a ticket, but they may land you in jail. So, it goes without saying that you should also follow all vehicle code traffic laws. Don’t make rolling stops, don’t run through yellow lights, and don’t do anything to attract the attention of law enforcement.
- Speech that is slurred or “thick”.
- Eyes that are red or watery; even though many people have bloodshot eyes late at night.
- Breath that exudes the odor of alcohol; even though this is mostly the mix in the drink.
- Walk with an unsteady gate
- Dress that is messy, dirty or sweaty.
- Appearance of an unkempt nature – messed up hair, smudged makeup.
- Attitude that is inappropriate for the moment – arguing, laughing, disrespectful.
- Balance such that you are leaning on the car for support or swaying and unstable.
- Memory so bad that you don’t follow instructions or you seem disoriented.
- Coordination and Dexterity is challenged when looking for your license.
- The fact of refusal may be introduced into evidence as “consciousness of guilt”. Of course, the defense is free to offer other reasons for the refusal.
- Your driver’s license will be suspended for a period of time, commonly three, six or twelve months. This may be true even if you are found not guilty of the DUI charge; in California, the suspension for a refusal on a first offense is one year.
- In some states, refusal is a separate crime; in others, it adds jail time to the sentence for the DUI offense (in California, 48 hours).
Analysis of a blood sample is potentially the most accurate. Blood samples also provide the greatest opportunity for your attorney to discredit the results. The vile used to hold the blood must have an appropriate amount of chemical in them to preserve the blood and prevent it from coagulating. Also, there needs to be an accurate and consistent amount of blood drawn. Plus, there are procedures that must be followed by the blood draw technician for the test to be reliably analyzed at a later date by the chemical lab.
Breath machines are susceptible to a number of problems rendering them often unreliable. The least accurate by far, however, is urinalysis. Thus, if you are confident that you are sober, a blood sample is the wise choice.
Urine is the least accurate and most easily impeached. This is the best option if available and if you believe your blood-alcohol concentration is above the legal limit.
The other charge can stand regardless of your BAC level and has to do with you being so influenced by the effects of alcohol or drugs such that you are incapable of properly handling a motor vehicle. This is the reason for the FST’s and the officer’s observations of your behavior, looks, and attitude. In most cases you will be charged with both counts, but you can only be convicted of one, and each carries the same penalty!
Take the time to read the tab on “Winning Defense” to see all the ways that a good attorney can cut this charge up in pieces and challenge everything from why the officer stopped you to what was wrong with the equipment or procedure that was used to determine your BAC. And, if you’re looking for a reduction in the charge and penalties, then you need someone to speak for you; someone who has done this hundreds of times before.
We suggest that you fill out the extensive interview questionnaire that you’ll find on each of our Legal Defense Network attorney sites. This gives an attorney a head start to understanding what happened to you and what defenses may be invoked on your behalf. And, until the attorney knows the specifics of your case and can determine a strategy that suits you, it is unfair for to try and estimate the cost of representation. Beware of the attorney who just flat out says it will cost X, regardless of what the steps are that will be taken on your behalf. The range of costs will naturally vary by state and locality. The range of cost will vary by how busy the attorney is. And, it will vary by the complexities and seriousness of your case.
As a simple rule:
- Felony charges will be more expensive than a simple misdemeanor;
- First time DUI/DWI’s will be less than a second or third offense on your record;
- Plea Bargain strategies will cost less than a Trial strategies; and
- Expert witnesses or Chemical Lab work will bring about extra costs and time.
If you have any suggestions or comments that you think would be helpful to others that we have not covered here, please feel free to contact us with your ideas.