It should come as no surprise to learn that driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal. Being arrested for DUI is a serious offense that can lead to fines, suspension of your driver’s license, and even possible time spent in prison. For these reasons, it’s important to avoid committing this serious offense. However, if the damage is already done, your best bet is to engage the services of a professional DUI lawyer. This is the person who is best qualified to act on your behalf in order to help you avoid the worst consequences of being charged with a DUI offense.
What Is Considered Probable Cause for DUI Traffic Stop?
You may be wondering what probable cause for a traffic stop consists of. There are several ways in which a police officer can come to the determination that you have been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The most obvious justification for a DUI traffic stop is being observed while driving recklessly. For example, you be speeding or driving too slowly, swerving across traffic lanes, failing to stop at a traffic light, or failing to yield to other vehicles at the appropriate time. These are all serious indications that something is wrong and will probably result in you being pulled over.
When Can a Police Officer Give You a Field Sobriety Test?
After a police officer pulls you over, they will ask you several questions designed to get to the bottom of why you were driving in such a suspicious manner. If they detect telltale signs of alcohol or drug use, such as slurred or impaired speech, swaying, blurry eyes, or alcohol on your breath, they will most likely order you to get out of the car in order to perform a field sobriety test. This is standard DUI traffic stop procedure.
What Does a Field Sobriety Test Consist Of?
A field sobriety test can take a number of forms. For example, you may be asked to perform several operations, such as walking for a specified period in an absolutely straight line or standing on one leg until the officer tells you to stop. There may also be a speech test to determine how badly your ability to communicate and understand directions may be impaired. During the time that the test is administered, the officer will be observing your eyes very carefully in order to detect any suspicious dilation of your pupils. Failing any of these tests will likely lead to a further chemical test.
What Does a Chemical Blood Alcohol Level Test Consist Of?
The next step in the standard DUI traffic stop procedure consists of the officer giving you a chemical blood alcohol level test. You may be asked to give a breath, urine, or blood sample. The blood test is the simplest and most direct one. It simply measures the amount of alcohol in your blood. The urine and breath tests are a bit more complex. They work off a mathematical principle that has been specially designed to measure the amount of alcohol in the sample that you have provided. If your sample should test above a .08% blood alcohol level, you may be considered guilty of a DUI.
Is There Any Way to Get Out of Taking a Field Sobriety Test?
You may be wondering if there is any way that you can legally avoid having to submit to taking a field sobriety test at the direction of a police officer. It is important to note that you do have certain DUI traffic stop rights that you are well within the law to take advantage of. In most cases, you are allowed to refuse to take a field sobriety test. However, there will usually be certain penalties attached to your refusal to do so.
For example, refusing to take the test usually results in the automatic suspension of your driver’s license for a certain period of time under an “implied consent” law.
Can You Be Arrested for DUI at a Roadblock?
If you were pulled over at a roadblock and arrested for DUI as the result of failing a field test, you may well be wondering if such a procedure is strictly legal. The answer is that the police are legally allowed to use a neutral, nondiscriminatory policy for choosing which cars to pull over. They are especially within their rights to do so if the driver of the car was exhibiting signs of impairment due to being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Can the Police Ask You Questions Without First Reading You Your Rights?
In certain cases, the police officer who pulled you over for suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can ask you certain questions before they have read you your legal rights. During a normal roadside traffic stop, you are not considered to be in custody of the police and there is no reason to read you your Miranda rights just yet.
However, this condition changes the moment the police officer on the scene decides to take you into custody for DUI. At the point that the arrest is made, they must also make sure to read you your full Miranda rights. If the police officer should fail for any reason to do so, your lawyer will have an excellent opportunity to contest the legality of the arrest. If the arrest is declared illegal and invalid, all of the charges that have been filed against you will have to be dropped.
Refusing to Take a Field Sobriety Test May Harm Your Case in Court
It should also be noted that, if your case should go to court, refusing to take a field sobriety test will give the prosecutor in your case the freedom to inform the judge and jury of your refusal to do so. This will tend to have a negative effect on your ability to defend yourself against the charges that have been brought against you. In general, it is probably best to submit to the test as administered by the officer on the scene unless you are convinced that you have a valid reason for not doing so that is sure to hold under questioning in a court of law.
Are You Allowed to Call Your Lawyer Before You Take a Sobriety Test?
Some states, such as Arizona, will allow you to call your lawyer and consult with them before you decide whether or not to take a field sobriety test. However, the majority of states will not normally allow you this privilege. As noted above, it is probably best to agree to take the test as mandated by the police officer on the scene. You can consult with your DUI lawyer later over the results of the test as presented in a court of law. In many cases, your lawyer can work to dispute the results of the test or argue for a mitigation of your penalty based on a blood alcohol content that is barely over the line.
How Soon Should You Consult With Your Lawyer After a DUI Arrest?
You should consult with a qualified DUI lawyer immediately after you are stopped for a DUI, whether or not you are subsequently arrested. This is an issue that you cannot afford to skimp or cut corners on. If you suspect or know that you are soon going to be called upon to answer to DUI charges in a court of law, you will certainly need a legal professional to represent you. Now is the time to consult with a lawyer and arrange for them to accompany you to your preliminary hearing. If the case does go to court, your lawyer can advise you of your rights and work with you to reduce or dismiss the charges.