1. Pull Over Immediately
When being pulled over by a law enforcement officer, the reasonable and prudent thing to do is to pull over in a safe place and in an expeditious fashion. Do not coast to a stop. Sometimes an officer will employ the intercom system in their squad car to direct you where to pull over. If this happens, pay attention and listen for instructions.
If you find yourself in a situation where you do not feel you can safely pull over, make sure to tell this to the officer upon contact…i.e., that you were looking for a safe place, not only for your safety but theirs as well.
2. Have Your License and Registration Available
More often than not, the first few questions of an officer will ask is, “can I take a look at your license and registration?” Have this information readily available. Officers tend to include information as to a person “fumbling” for same, if the information is not immediately located. This is just one piece of evidence that will be used against you at court to convict you of a DUI.
3. Be Courteous
You do not need to be chummy with the officer who has pulled you over, but you should be courteous. Making a scene, cussing, throwing a fit, making threats and getting out of the vehicle, in most cases, will lead to a horrible experience for you and in some cases, additional criminal charges, such as resisting, delaying or obstructing arrest. So, even if you have an officer who is a jerk, take the higher road and be courteous.
4. Exercise Your Rights Under the Constitution
It is extremely likely that you have heard the expression, “anything you say can and will be used against you.” You probably have never heard the expression, “anything you say can and will be used to help you out.” So goes it with a DUI investigation.
When you are being investigated for suspicion of driving under the influence, the investigating officer will ask questions similar to the following:
– What have you had to drink tonight?
– How much have you had to drink?
– When did you start and stop?
– How much have you had to eat?
– How much did you sleep the before?
– Where are you coming from?
– Do you feel the effects of the alcohol?
– Are you under the care of a physician?
– Do you have any physical defects?
– Are you taking any medication?
All of these questions are designed to be used against you in a court of law. You have an absolute right not to answer these questions pursuant to both the United States and California Constitutions. In response, to any of these questions, a prudent response would be to tell the officer that “do not wish to answer the question” and/or “you are exercising your right not to answer the question.”
5. Do Not Participate in Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety tests are not there to help you out. They are purely designed to build a better DUI case against you. Sometimes an officer will lure you into participating in Field Sobriety Tests, such as the Walk & Turn, Rhomberg, One Leg Stand and Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus tests, by stating that if you do them and pass they will let you go. This never happens.
These tests are completely voluntary and you do not have to participate in them. Politely refuse.
6. Refuse a Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test
A Preliminary Alcohol Screening test is a breath test device that an officer will typically end their DUI investigation by administering. The test is simply to determine if there is alcohol in your system. It is not intended or designed to be relied upon as an accurate and true breath alcohol content. Typically, an officer will preface the use of this device by stating that if you blow into the machine and blow below the legal limit they will let you go. This is not the case.
You do NOT need to participate in this test, it is completely voluntary.
7. Take a Chemical Test
In California, after a lawful DUI arrest, you are required to submit to a chemical test. Vehicle Code §23612 sets forth in pertinent part that “[a] person who drives a motor vehicle is deemed to have given his or her consent to chemical testing of his or her blood or breath for the purpose of determining the alcohol content of his or her blood, if lawfully arrested for an offense allegedly committed in violation of Section 23140, 23152 or 23153.” It is important to note, that blowing into a device at the scene of the arrest, is NOT considered a chemical test for purposes of complied consent.
If you do not consent to a chemical test, the arresting officer will secure a warrant to take your blood. Further, your case will be treated as a refusal and you could lose your license for a year.
8. After Release, Write Down the Events of Arrest
Your memory of your arrest is going to be much more reliable the closer in time you are to the event, then later. A 24-hour profile should include the following:
– How much sleep you had the night before;
– When you awoke;
– What and when you ate the day of the arrest;
– What and when you drank the day of the arrest;
– The circumstances of the police contact, i.e., were you pulled over or was there a traffic accident;
– What FST’s you took, if any;
– What type of chemical test you took, i.e., breath or blood.
– Anything else you deem important.
9. Contact an Attorney
Being arrested and having to face the criminal justice system can be a very stressful ordeal. An attorney can help walk you through the process, what to expect, as well as, the maximum and likely consequences of your case. Most importantly, an attorney can help you manage the stress and anxiety.
10. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles
After an arrest for DUI, you have ten (10) days in which to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to preserve your right to an Administrative Per Se hearing. (For the most part, this is typically the most time-sensitive matter you will deal with after your DUI arrest.) The DMV Administrative Per Se hearing is being heard solely to determine whether to suspend your license for a particular period of time. The time period for a suspension will typically depend on the number of prior DUI convictions and prior Administrative Per Se actions heard by the DMV, whether you are under the age of twenty-one (21), and whether you are a commercial driver. If you do not request a DMV Administrative Per Se hearing within the requisite time period, then thirty (30) days after your arrest, the DMV will automatically take action against your license.
Therefore, contacting the DMV or having an attorney do so on your behalf is extremely important to your case.