What Should You Do if You Are Pulled Over for Suspicion of Driving Under the Influence?
All too often, I have heard from clients and friends that when they are pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), they are not sure what, if anything, they should do or say.
First, the police officer will likely ask you a series of questions about what you have had to drink, what you have eaten that day, illnesses, sleep- a basic history of issues that may contribute to the alcohol level in your blood stream. Second, the officers will request you perform a series of Field Sobriety Tests (FST’s) which may include one or more of the following:
• One Leg Stand
• Walk and Turn
• Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
• Recite the Alphabet
• Count Backwards
These Field Sobriety Tests allegedly can show whether or not a driver is impaired. In recent years, officers will also administer a “Preliminary Alcohol Screening” or a PAS. Again, this device is use to determine whether there is probable cause to believe the driver is under the influence. You have the right to refuse the PAS test (but, do not be confused with the breathalyzer test or blood test explained below where refusal has significant legal impact).
It is very important to note that you have NO obligation to answer any questions or to submit to the field sobriety tests. In effect, these are statements to the officer to which you are under no legal obligation to give and which may incriminate you. However, under California Vehicle Code 23612, by driving in California, you are consenting to take a chemical test to determine whether there is alcohol in your system. While you do not have to answer any questions or submit to the field sobriety tests, including the PAS, if you refuse to submit to the breathalyzer or blood test, you AUTOMATICALLY will have your license suspended for one year.
If you are pulled over by an officer and have been drinking, be cooperative, but do not make their case for them. Politely refuse to answer any questions and refuse to take the field sobriety tests. Politely ask to be taken to the station for administration of a breathalyzer test and call us as soon as you can after your arrest so that we can help you through the court process.
It is also important to remember that you have only ten (10) days from your arrest to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to request a hearing. The DMV is separate from the criminal courts. If you do not schedule this hearing within this time period, your license will automatically be suspended. Call us to help you with staying all DMV proceedings and representation at your DMV hearing.