Protect Yourself When Stopped For A DUI
It is important to know how to protect yourself when stopped for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in the state of Virginia. A DUI charge brings with it serious consequences and penalties but you can protect yourself against these charges. Consider reaching out to an experienced criminal defense attorney today at the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall at 703-934-0101 to learn more about your legal rights and ensure they remain protected.
What Is A DUI Stop?
A DUI stop is when a police officer pulls over someone they suspect to be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. DUI checkpoints can be set up outside areas where police officers have probable cause that a larger percentage of the population might be drinking and driving. This can include DUI checkpoints outside of concerts, sports stadiums, or on weekends at night.
If police officers have probable cause to pull you over they will look for additional evidence that you are driving under the influence. This can include the smell of alcohol on your breath, open containers in your vehicle, answering in the affirmative that you have been drinking, or common tests administered on the spot.
Legal Rights At A DUI stop
You can protect yourself when stopped for a DUI in two key ways:
Do Not Admit To Drinking
When stopped for a DUI, police officers typically asked if you have been drinking. The answer to this question can determine whether you face large fines, lose your license, or go to jail.
While it may seem harmless, police officers ask whether or not a driver has consumed alcohol or drugs in an attempt to obtain more evidence to prove that the driver was either taking drugs or drinking and driving. Police officers need to prove probable cause in order to arrest you and if you answer that you have taken any alcohol or drugs, you give them that probable cause. Answering in the affirmative combined with the results of a breathalyzer test or blood test can lead to a conviction for DUI.
Many people retort that they have “only had two beers” or something similar because they think the answer falls within the legal parameters. However, the goal of the question is to force you to admit guilt, and telling a police officer you consumed any amount of alcohol or drugs is an admittance of guilt.
However, you should not lie. You can respond to the question respectfully without indemnifying yourself by saying “I refuse to answer that question until I speak with an attorney” after which you can consider contacting the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall. This statement falls within your Fifth Amendment rights. You can also say something such as, “ I do not recall”. This, too, falls under your Fifth Amendment rights.
Choose Your DUI Test Wisely
Your legal rights at a DUI stop include the right to refuse a breathalyzer. If you refuse a breathalyzer you still have to submit to another form of test which is the blood test.
Some counties in the state of Virginia add factors to their definition of under the influence like being under the influence of medications or drugs.
If you submit to a breathalyzer it will evaluate your alcohol levels only, not your medication levels or drug levels.
If you submit to a blood test, your blood sample is sent to a lab and analyzed for individual components which could reveal medications or drugs.
Potential Problems With Breathalyzers
A New York Times investigation found that breathalyzers are often unreliable. These findings reveal that judges in multiple states have thrown out over 30,000 tests in the last 12 months because of human errors. Breathalyzers are highly sensitive scientific instruments and if improperly calibrated can yield results up to 40% too high. Police departments are tasked with maintaining these machines but do not always have the resources or knowledge to do so properly.
When To Choose The Breathalyzer
If you submit to a breathalyzer at a DUI stop, and you blow very far under the limit, it can help you avoid a DUI charge. If you are on medications or other drugs, a breathalyzer will only measure your alcohol content.
If you submit to a breathalyzer and blow above the legal limit, police officers may not require any other evidence to convict you of a DUI.
People on prescription medications should consider submitting to a breathalyzer at a DUI stop as the breath test will work out in their favor. In the event a case goes to trial, blood evidence may be the preferred test result. In this case, submitting to a breathalyzer could potentially be helpful.
Potential Problems With Blood Tests
Potential problems with blood tests have to do primarily with the storage and processing of the blood. When technicians draw blood they use a vacuum-sealed device that prevents contamination, but these devices have expiration dates. If the device is expired, the blood could be compromised. Adding insufficient amounts of potassium oxalate or sodium fluoride for testing can also taint the sample and provide false-positive results.
When To Choose The Blood Test
If you do not submit to a breathalyzer, police officers will be forced to put more effort into proving that you were under the influence. Not submitting to a breathalyzer and requesting a blood test instead typically means you are taken to the nearest police station and held overnight.
If you request a blood test, you can buy yourself extra time between the moment you are pulled over at a DUI stop and the moment you are tested for being under the influence. You also forced police officers to use a more reliable method for potential conviction and avoid issues of inaccurate breathalyzer results.
Juries are more likely to convict based on blood test results so if your blood test confirms you are over the legal limit, it will work against you in court.
Contact an Attorney Regarding Your Legal Rights at a DUI Stop
Penalties for a DUI conviction can include a jail sentence, hefty fines, and a suspension of your license. There are many ways to protect yourself when stopped for a DUI. If you want to know more about how to fight a DUI arrest or charge, or how to protect yourself during a DUI stop, consider visiting with an experienced DUI attorney. When you reach out to the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall at www.farlawoffice.com or 703-934-0101, we can provide a consultation to review your situation and prepare you for what lies ahead.