Guest Post by Rosemary Jones
DUI is an abbreviation that stands for “driving under the influence”, referring to the operation of a motor vehicle after drinking alcohol or using recreational drugs. This means that the driver is incapable of operating the respective vehicle safely, endangering himself/herself and other people (whether drivers or pedestrians). If you are interested in finding out more information on DUI, you have arrived at the perfect resource. Keep on reading and discover several things that you need to know about driving under the influence. And, remember, it is never safe to drink and drive (same for using drugs).
How do the police know I have committed a DUI?
While the police cannot determine with certainty that you have committed a DUI, they will most definitely pull you over in case such suspicions are present. If a vehicle continually fails to stay within its lane or if erratic driving is noticed, the particular car will be stopped, and the driver interrogated for DUI. It is possible that the vehicle is pulled over for other reasons, such as going over the speed limit. In this situation, the concern for a DUI might arise out of the driver smelling of alcohol or showing signs of drug usage. If the driver’s speech is impaired and the pupils are dilated, these can be suggestive of alcohol/drug consumptions.
What happens once I get pulled over for a DUI?
Once you are pulled over, and the suspicion of DUI is present, the first thing you will be asked is to step out of your car. Roadside tests will be performed to assess whether the driver has consumed alcohol/drugs or if he/she is clean. You might be asked to recite the alphabet backward, to walk with one foot in front of the other or to follow a light with your eyes. Another standard test is touching your nose with your index finger.
If you fail one or several of the above tests, you will be placed under arrest. The officer might base his/her decision of arrest on astute observations regarding your current condition. A breathalyzer test can also be administered on the premises or at the police station, depending on each situation. The allowed blood alcohol content differs from one state to the other, and from one country to the other. In some countries, you are not authorized to drink and drive (no alcohol in the blood).
You have rights that have to be respected by the police officer
If the police officer requests that you perform any of the tests as mentioned above, you have the right to refuse. However, this does not protect you from the DUI arrest, especially if the officer says that there are visible signs of such an offense (the smell of alcohol, difficulties concentrating and slurred speech). Pay attention as admitting to having consumed alcohol can be enough for a DUI arrest to be pursued.
Another thing that you should be aware of is that you are allowed to consult a lawyer, before taking the breathalyzer test. However, it is not advisable to refuse to take this test – this refusal can be used against you later on (in court). It is also important to know that such a refusal can cause your license to be automatically suspended. A DUI offense that occurs while your license is suspended means jail time (minimum sentence of 30 days).
A DUI arrest is not necessarily followed by jail time
If this is your first offense, you will most likely be recommended to participate in an educative program. Such programs are meant to raise awareness about driving under the influence, whether this offense involved alcohol or recreational drugs. You will be taught about the dangers and risks associated with such crimes; the program has to be paid, falling under the responsibility of the person charged with the DUI offense.
The DUI arrest is not followed by jail time, especially if you are a first-time offender. It is also important that no accidents have occurred as a result of the DUI, with no dangerous circumstances (victims, extensive material damages). If the program as mentioned earlier is completed, the DUI charges will most likely be dismissed. The program cannot be used for every DUI charge but only every ten years. In the situation that you will repeat the DUI offense, jail time is a possibility (several nights); you might also be placed on probation, required to do community service or have your license suspended.
Use your right to remain silent
If you have been pulled over for a suspected DUI, one of the first things that the police officer will ask you is how much you have drunk (or what quantity of recreational drugs you have used). In this situation, you should either reserve your right to remain silent or, if you have to talk, say that you are not certain. Keep in mind that anything you might say, especially about alcohol/drug usage, can and will be used against you in a court of law.
There are a lot of drivers who consider that it is far better to lie about how much alcohol they have drunk. However, the breathalyzer test can show with precision the alcohol in your system (Moreover, blood tests are often performed). Lying will have an adverse impact on your credibility, and it will ruin your chances of escaping a conviction. Avoid telling anyone anything. It is your right to remain silent, and you should take advantage of it.
DUI might seem like a simple matter but, with a few wrong turns, it can quickly transform into something complicated. Always pay attention to what the police officer asks of you and make sure that your rights are respected. Do not provide more information than it is necessary and hire an experienced DUI attorney to handle your case. Only a true professional can ensure the best outcome for your DUI case, working in your best interest.
Rosemary Jones is a professional blogger who loves to write on several niches particularly in law, including personal injury, estate planning, business law, real estate law, construction law, criminal defense law and DUI law. Read more about her blog posts on Band Gates & Dramis.