In many cases, you can have a single alcoholic drink and drive home legally and safely. However, the line between legal and illegal is thin, and for some people, even one drink can impact their judgement enough to hinder driving. For this reason, it's imperative to protect yourself if you've been pulled over after drinking alcohol. Even if you believe you aren't over the legal limit, check out these five tips to follow.
Use Your Right to Remain Silent
Police shows and movies reference this right frequently: the right to remain silent, and it's a real right you have. Even if you have not been arrested, you have the right to remain silent in order to prevent incriminating yourself. This doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't speak at all, and it defiantly doesn't mean you shouldn't comply with an officer's commands, but you don't have to answer any questions, including, "Have you been drinking tonight," which is often a loaded question. If you do decide to use this right, make sure to tell the officer, so they know you are not purposely ignoring them, which will likely get you into trouble.
Know Your Rights Regarding Car Searches
For the most part, an officer can't just search your car. They need a reason, and believing you've been drinking is not usually enough evidence to justify a search of your car. However, if they spot an open bottle of alcohol or an empty beer can lying on your car floor when they glance inside your car it may justify the search. If you attempt to toss anything out the window before pulling over or before the officer approaches your vehicle, and they notice, that can be used to justify a car search.
Determine if You Want to Take Field Sobriety Tests
To determine if a driver is intoxicated, an officer may perform some field sobriety tests. These are common tests that measure reflex, balance, etc. Failing these tests proves you are likely drunk and a danger on the road. You don't have to agree to take any of these tests, and if you believe you will fail, you shouldn't perform them. If you believe you can perform the tests, however, it's best to comply with the officer. Refusing to comply could get you arrested and it will reflect poorly on your case. The officer may also request that you take an on-the-spot breathalyzer test to measure your level of intoxication. Again, if you feel you believe you'll fail, it may be best to refuse the test, but refusing the test usually results in an automatic arrest.
Consider Independent Chemical Tests
Regardless of whether you take the breathalyzer test or not, if you are arrested, you will need to eventually take a breathalyzer or have your blood tested. This is usually done at the police station, by police technicians. You do, however, have the right to refuse tests performed by the police station. You are allowed to request independent chemical tests from a private provider.
Contact a DUI Attorney
If you've been arrested (or believe you may be arrested) for driving under the influence, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will help you craft a defense for your DUI charges, but more importantly, they can uncover any potential injustices. For example, if you choose to have your chemical tests performed by an independent provider, and the officers delay your test by not letting you leave, speak to your attorney, etc. it may negatively impact your case. The court may argue the test is invalid because you waited so long. Your attorney, however, can prove it wasn't your fault, improving your chances of winning your case or getting a reduced settlement.
Even after one drink, you may be over the legal limit to drive, which is why it's important to know all your rights regarding getting pulled over for driving under the influence. If you would like more information, contact an attorney in your area today.