March 17, 2017
With all the festivities in San Diego for Saint Patrick’s Day, it is important to drink responsibly. If you have too much fun and lose track of your drinks and make the mistake of driving, you should know what to do if you end have an encounter with law enforcement. During holidays, including St. Patrick’s Day, DUI arrests increase dramatically. For example
Firstly, you have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The police may not stop you randomly. Law enforcement must have evidence that you are breaking some law BEFORE stopping or detaining you. If the officer has a reasonable suspicion you have violated any law, including a traffic offense, they may pull you over and conduct an investigation.
So some things you should keep in mind before getting into your car:
- Do you have a front license plate?
- Is your registration tag up-to-date?
- Are all of your lights and indicators working?
- Do you have tinted windows? Is there anything obstructing your windshield?
- Do you have a trailer hitch that obscures your license plate?
If your car is in any way out of compliance, an officer can legally pull you over at any time. So make sure you:
Do keep your license plate, registration, and proof of insurance in an accessible place.
DUI reports that state “she fumbled when looking for her car registration” may be used as evidence of impairment reasoning that, if you hadn’t consumed green beer she would have easily accessed it.
Do ask to have everything recorded and take note of the officers
If you get arrested Do write down everything as soon as possible that occurred including witnesses, weather conditions, what did you ate, etc. because you may not be able to fully recall everything that happened months later.
Some Dos and Don’t If You’re Stopped for DUI
Don’t Panic – Be Cooperative and Polite
Everything you do or say can and most likely will be used as evidence against you – So it is best to keep your thoughts to yourself. Something as minor or innocuous as slowly getting out of your car simply because you’re stiff from a long drive can be misinterpreted as impairment.
One of the forms that an officer must fill out during a DUI investigation is on a detainee’s attitude. It asks whether you are cooperative, belligerent, or angry. If you are anything other than cooperative it can be evidence of intoxication. Do your best to be polite to the officer.
Don’t Answer Questions – Do exercise your right
The following questions will often make or break a case: “What have you been drinking?” “How much have you had?” “When did you start?” “When did you stop?” You are under no obligation whatsoever to answer these questions. You should tell the officer “I want to cooperate with you. I will take a blood test, but I do not want to answer any questions.”
Don’t do a “Field Sobriety Test.” – Do exercise your right
We have never had a jury trial where the officer testified that our client performed well on the Field Sobriety Test, or FST. There is no consequence to you for not taking those tests and you should exercise your right in refusing them.
Don’t Let an Officer Shine a Flashlight in Your Face- Do exercise your right
Officers will sometimes shine a light into your eyes looking for a presence of “nystagmus” which is a vision condition in which the eyes make repetitive, uncontrolled movements often caused by a side effect of a drug and they use it to efforts to determine if you’re under the influence. You should exercise your right to refuse this test.
Don’t Take a Breath Test – Do Take the Chemical Test
A preliminary alcohol screening test, or a PAS, is a breath test is typically conducted by a hand-held device that the officer asks you to blow into during or after his field investigation. You have a right to refuse this test so long as you take a chemical test down at the police station; there is no consequence for your refusal. If the officer tells you that you must take the test or suffer the consequences then take the test and ask that the officer notate the objection in the police report.
In California, if you refuse to take a “chemical test” such as a blood test or a breath test given at the station, courts will impose 48 hours in jail for a first time refusal and the DMV will suspend your driver’s license.
Don’t Drink and Drive – Do Call a Lawyer if You are Arrested
Luckily for you, the Law Offices of Stark & D’Ambrosio are here to represent you. An arrest normally occurs after the officer observed erratic behavior, outward signs of intoxication and poor performance of a field sobriety test. After the arrest, you only have 10 days to contact the California Department of Motor Vehicles to schedule a DMV hearing to challenge the suspension of your license.
You will then have your first court appearance at an arraignment, which a judge will inform you of your charges. You would then enter your plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest. After the arraignment, the prosecuting attorney may offer a plea bargain and a DUI defense attorney can file pretrial motions to help build your defense such as, suppressing evidence at trial.
Consequences of not hiring a DUI attorney could be losing your license, paying a large fine, jail time, and a permanent mark on your record. A DUI is a criminal offense and stays on your driving record for 10 years in California, and stays on your criminal record permanently. This could cause future employment issues. While the FCRA prohibits reporting of criminal arrests after a period of seven years, criminal convictions (including DUIs) may be reported indefinitely. If you are convicted of multiple offenses, the sentencing requires mandatory jail-time and ignition interlock devices. High blood alcohol content has severe additional penalties.
If you don’t have the “Luck of the Irish,” contact Law Offices of Stark & D’Ambrosio, LLP, help reduce your penalty, sentencing or have your DUI charge dismissed entirely. Our attorneys know the important legal rules and standard in depth for the prosecution of driving while intoxicated. We are highly skilled and experienced Trial Attorneys with over fifty years combined experience in State Courts. We can also represent your case effectively and persuasively to the California Department of Motor Vehicles with respect to your license suspension hearing.
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