People who are stopped for a California DUI often do things that will make their case worse. Often times, friends or family give bad advice about what to do when pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence that can make the case much worse. Other times, mere neglect can hurt a case. The following are some of the mistakes that make me shake my head when my clients tell me about their California DUI stop:
1. Volunteering information to the police
Cops will often ask questions such as: Where are you coming from? Where are you going? Have you been drinking? If you say you are leaving the bar, going to the bar, and/or have been drinking, you’ve given the cops too much information. You’ve given them reason to believe that you are driving drunk.
The 5th Amendment provides people the right to remain silent. Invoke your right.
Recall my recent post entitled “Silence CAN be Used Against You in Your California DUI Case.” In order to be able to invoke your right to remain silent, you must clearly indicate to the police that you are invoking your right even if they haven’t read you your Miranda warnings. If you just sit there with your mouth shut, your silence can be used against you.
2. Volunteer to perform field sobriety tests
Field sobriety tests are notoriously inaccurate.
Chances are that, by the time the officer stops you, he or she has already made the decision to arrest you. Therefore, when he or she asks you to perform an FST, they already think that you are under the influence and they’ll see what they want to see.
“Failing” FSTs can often be due to something other than intoxication such as environmental conditions, fatigue, other physical conditions, and/or officer bias. Even though you’re “failing” the FST was not the result of intoxication, it will used to show that you were intoxicated.
FSTs are voluntary and you do not need to perform them. They are inaccurate, designed for failure, and will only be used against you.
3. Refusing a chemical test after arrest
California law requires that, if you drive a car in California, you have impliedly consented to a chemical test if you are lawfully arrested on suspicion of DUI.
People are often under the mistaken belief that they can refuse a test. This will only lead to increased penalties. You do, however, have the right to refuse a preliminary alcohol screening test. This is a breathalyzer given before you are arrested. Once you are arrested, you must submit to a chemical test.
4. Not contacting the DMV within 10 days
The California DMV gives you 10 days to contact them to request a hearing to determine if they will suspend your license. If you do not contact them, they will automatically suspend your license. Even if your case ends up getting dismissed, your license will be still be suspended.
When you (or your attorney) contact the DMV and request an administrative per se hearing, you give yourself a chance at saving your license at the hearing.
5. Not taking the DUI seriously
A California DUI arrest is not something to take lightly. A conviction can have a devastating effect on someone’s life. It stays on your record and can be reviewed by employers, insurance companies, lenders and others.
People who do not take their DUI seriously often wait more than 10 days to contact the DMV and, as a result, their license will automatically be suspended. People who do not take their DUI seriously will sometimes miss their court dates and, as a result, will have a warrant issued for them. People who don’t think they need an attorney will likely miss opportunities to obtain a favorable plea deal or even a dismissal of charges.
Take your California DUI seriously. Not doing so may lead to lifelong consequences.