Law enforcement officers in Southern California have made driving under the influence a top priority. Because of this, they are very aggressive when stopping motorists who display signs of impairment, including swerving, running red lights, or unsafe lane changes. If a motorist is pulled over under suspicion of DUI, it is crucial to understand that officers will immediately begin their observations to determine if that motorist should be arrested and charged.
Drinking and driving is never recommended, but sometimes people get behind the wheel after having a drink or two and sometimes officers make mistakes when pulling drivers over. Whatever the case may be, it is important to remember that you have legal rights and that there are things you should know that could potentially protect you from a DUI arrest or from additional charges.
- You Don't Have to Speak to Police – You have a constitutional right to remain silent. Remember, what you say can be used against you, so it's often best to say as little as possible. You should still be respectful to officers and give them your license and registration, but you can also politely tell them that you do not wish to speak until you consult with a lawyer.
- You Don't Have to Take Field Sobriety Tests – Field sobriety tests (stand on one leg, walk a straight line, etc.) are not mandatory. They also represent only the observations of officers, don't generally help motorists, and can also only be used against them in court. You have the right to refuse these tests.
- You Don't Have to Take the PAS test – You also have the right to refuse the preliminary alcohol screening test, which is generally a handheld breathalyzer device that officers use in the field. Like sobriety tests, these too are not mandatory.
- You Have to Take a Breath or Blood Test – You should remember that you must submit to a breathalyzer or blood test or face mandatory penalties. In California, refusing a chemical test can result in an automatic year suspension of your driver's license.
- You Can Contact an Attorney – You have the right to have legal representation, and you should exercise this right to the fullest extent. By contacting an attorney as soon as possible after being stopped or arrested, you can learn more about your rights and how you may be able to fight the charges against you.
Remember, officers want as much information and evidence against you to make an arrest. These helpful reminders can ensure that they have as little as possible to work off. In the event that you are arrested, a DUI lawyer may have the basis to create a strong defense. If you have questions about your case and would like to speak with a San Bernardino criminal defense lawyer, contact Chung & Ignacio, LLP today.