Happy Labor Day! It’s still DWI No Refusal Time, so as a DWI attorney, I thought I would point out a few helpful reminders if you are planning to celebrate with an icy, cold, adult beverage.
If you drink alcohol, drive your vehicle and are stopped by police, here are a few things DWI attorneys will tell you to keep in mind:
- Admit to Drinking. If you have actually consumed alcohol within the last 3-4 hours of driving, you will probably have an alcoholic odor to your breath. If you deny drinking to the cop, and later admit to drinking or a breath or blood test shows the presence of alcohol, you will look like a LIAR. I know it’s tempting to deny drinking in the hopes of being let go. Cops, Prosecutors, Judges and especially Juries will not believe anything you later say if you lie about drinking up front. How many do you admit to drinking? Many people say two or a couple. It may be because that’s actually what they had to drink. If you’ve had more than a couple, you’ve already made a mistake by driving and should consider invoking your 5th Amendment Right to Remain Silent. That looks like, “Officer, if I’m not free to go, I would like to have my attorney present before answering any questions.”
- Refuse the Roadside Tests. Most DWI attorneys agree that performing the roadside tests will result in evidence used against you, even if you are sober. The HGN/”eye test” and the Rhomberg Balance/”Close Your Eyes, Tilt your Head Back & Count to 30” test should both be avoided due to inherent flaws in them. If you think you have excellent attention under stress and perfect coordination and balance, you might consider the Walk & Turn and One Leg Stands Tests. Please remember that ANY mistake you make will be considered due to alcohol and not to other potential factors. Again, “Officer, if I’m not free to go, I would like to have my attorney present before performing any tests.”
- Refuse the Breath & Blood Tests. Innocent people and responsible drinkers often believe that if they take a breath test, it will show that they are “under the limit” and result in their immediate release. This is FALSE. Once they’ve asked you to take a roadside, portable breath test, a regular breath test or a blood test, the decision to arrest you has already been made! If you agree to a breath or blood test, you will waive your constitutional rights and legal requirements that cops must meet in arresting you and collecting evidence against you. There are volumes of material and information about problems with alcohol breath and blood testing. This is why DWI attorneys will tell you to avoid taking breath and blood tests. It goes, “Officer, if I’m not free to go, I would like to have my attorney present before taking any tests.”
- Be Polite & Quiet. Being polite does not mean answering any and all questions asked. You can answer basic questions like your name, address and other identifying info. Discussing all the details of your day or evening is likely to be a bad idea. The cop will probably be VERY polite to you. They’ll tell you they want to “make sure you are safe to drive.” They want as much info as possible to convict you. Another favorite question is, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how drunk are you?” This question always gets interesting answers. If you are sober, the answer is zero. In addition, people often get upset when they are arrested. You are being audio and video recorded from the moment the cop makes contact with you. Be polite, no matter what happens. A prosecutor, judge or jury may see this recording later and believe you must have been drunk to be rude to a cop!
- Call an Attorney for Immediate Help & Jail Release. Many people do not realize that when arrested for DWI, they only have 15 days to request a hearing to prevent suspension of their driver’s license. There is also other information that can be very important to discuss with a DWI attorney right away. In addition, calling an attorney to get you out of jail can save time, money and hassle. Most people who are arrested want out of jail as quickly as possible and to spend their money wisely doing so. Calling an attorney first can make a big difference with the jail release process!
Please see here for my prior blog about DWI no refusal information. The foregoing reminders are about typical mistakes I see for my clients who have been arrested.
Your best bet is to use a sober driver and/or take advantage of Uber, Lift, Yellow Cab/Hail A Cab apps and other public transportation services. Hope everyone has a safe and happy Labor Day!
The foregoing comments are based upon my experience in defending those accused of driving while intoxicated/DWI. They are not intended to be specific legal advice for a specific situation nor are they intended to create an attorney-client relationship with the reader. We offer free consultations for many areas of the law and specifically for DWI and other criminal matters.