Criminal defense attorney Matthew J. Speredelozzi explains what to do if you’re pulled over for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Decline Field Sobriety Tests
If you’re arrested for suspicion of DUI, the officer will likely want to administer field sobriety tests on you. These may include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (follow a pen with your eyes), the Romberg (stand and count to thirty), the One Leg Stand (stand on one leg and balance) and the Walk and Turn (walking on a straight line touching heel to toe). You are not required by law to take these. Therefore, you are well within your rights to politely tell the officer you are not willing to participate.
Refuse PAS Breathalizer
There is a difference between the breath test police officers give at the arrest site and the chemical test given at the police station. The test on the street is called a Preliminary Alcohol Screen (aka PAS). The PAS test is not required if you are over 21. Additionally, the officer is required to inform you that you are not required to take the PAS test.
You Must Submit to a Chemical Test
If you are lawfully arrested for drinking and driving, you are required under California’s implied consent law to submit to a chemical test for the detection of alcohol. The chemical test will either be a breath, blood or urine test. The officer is required to inform you of your obligation under implied consent, however you do not have a right to have an attorney present before you take the test.
If you are booked into jail and the Sheriff sets bail, likely it will be around $2,500 for a first offense. You can call a bail bondsmen to bail you out for 10% of the cost of the cash bail.
Call a Lawyer
DUI cases are complex and nuanced. There are a myriad of defenses that a skilled defense attorney can litigate. These include everything from biological factors to faulty forensic evidence on behalf of the police and prosecution. But the clock is ticking. As with any other criminal offense, some of your important rights are time sensitive. It is imperative that you contact a lawyer who practices DUI immediately.
Call the DMV Safety Office
You must contact the DMV within 10 days of your arrest or you will lose the right to contest your DMV license suspension. When you contact them, make sure to request a stay on your driver’s license suspension, discovery of the evidence they intend to use at your hearing, and a hearing to determine whether your license should be suspended for DUI.