It is crucial that you know what your rights are when you’re accused of a crime.
While the best way to prevent getting stuck with a DUI charge in Chicago is to not drive after drinking, there may come a time when you might be pulled over by a police officer over suspicion of drunken driving.
Picture this – you’re driving home after spending an evening with friends over a few laughs, good food and maybe even a glass of wine. While you’re still on your way, you get stopped by a police officer who asks for your license and registration, which you are required to provide, and begins to inquire about your alcohol consumption.
What would you do in such a scenario?
While you want to be of help, there’s no telling what consequences your words and actions could have over the outcome of your tete-a-tete with the officer. Hence, it is imperative that you act intelligently and tackle the situation cleverly until you get in touch with a criminal defense attorney.
Here’s more on that.
Pull Over Carefully
Bear in mind that as soon as you are asked to pull over from suspicion of DUI, the police officer starts making mental notes about your behavior and actions which will ultimately end up in the police report. The report can have a considerable influence upon the outcome of your hearing as well as the criminal trial.
So when you pull over, do so slowly and carefully and into a safe location to keep your report favorable.
Stay Inside Your Car
It is advised that you do not get out of your car, unless the officer asks you to do so. Police officers have a knack for getting defensive if a person hops out of their car upon being pulled over. And they have a good reason for this.
The officer doesn’t know whether the driver is armed or will suddenly flee the scene after exiting his vehicle. By staying inside your car, you minimize the chances of giving him the wrong impression of your intentions.
Plead to the Fifth
Thanks to the Fifth Amendment, you can exercise your right to remain silent when you get stopped by an officer. It protects you from self-incrimination and gives you the right to refrain from answering any questions posed by him. This means you need not reveal if you’ve even had a drink or not.
If you’re worried that the officer may put words in your mouth, or you may stammer in your nervousness, you can refrain from answering all of the interrogative questions. By not responding to the officer’s questions, you prevent him from testifying in court that you were slurring when he pulled you over.
Your silence cannot be held against you. Don’t lie, as that can be used against you in the court of law.
Say No to the Field Sobriety Test
If the officer orders you to get out of the car and perform field sobriety tests, you have the right to deny performing any of them. Be polite and tell him that you do not wish to take any tests until you speak to your DUI attorney in Chicago. Also, avoid making any sudden movements.
The officer will likely state that only guilty people refuse taking the sobriety test, but simply be unresponsive.
Field sobriety tests entail you performing certain acts that help the police check for balance and coordination in your movements and actions. This test can set you up for trouble. In most states, however, you need not comply with this demand and this refusal cannot be held against you.
Sobriety tests are subjective in nature and are performed to give the police officer more evidence if you’re under the influence. Hence, irrespective of how you fare in these ‘tests,’ they can be skewed and used against you in court. There is no point in incriminating yourself through these tests.
Refuse the Breathalyzer Test
Did you know you can say no to submit to the initial roadside breathalyzer (otherwise known as Preliminary Alcohol Screening tests or PASs) test?
They are infamously unreliable, and there are innumerable ways to manipulate their results. In fact, the results of these tests aren’t even admissible in court in most states.
Like the field sobriety tests, portable breathalyzers are only used to verify probable cause for an impaired driving arrest.
Do Take the Chemical Test
When the officer asks you to take the chemical test, a test which is used to determine your blood alcohol content, do not refuse. In several states, a refusal can result in the suspension of your license for a minimum of 7 months even if you’re not under influence.
You will be required to take the test at a police station, and you can choose between a blood test and a breath test. Most lawyers would advise you to take the breath test because it is more unreliable and hence, its result can be challenged in court.
This is important as the notes about the arrest will make it easier for your attorney to understand and fight the charged levied against you. Make a note of where you were, what you were doing and how much you had to drink before you drove.
Also note down how long after drinking you were arrested, how the officer behaved, what you said to the officer, where you were pulled over, if and when you were read your Miranda rights, when you took the chemical test and how long it had been since your had the drink(s).
Write down everything that you can remember, even if you think it isn’t relevant.
Contact an Attorney
You’re going to need a qualified and an experienced DUI attorney on your side if you want to get a favorable outcome. Make sure you do not compromise on any aspect when hiring a lawyer to fight for you and get yourself only the best one.
Driving under influence is a crime in Chicago, and hence, should be avoided. However, if you are stopped under the suspicion of DUI, it is extremely important that you know what you’re in for, what your rights are and how you can use them to protect your interests. While you cannot have an attorney with you at all times, you can surely deal with such a situation tactfully until you can contact one with the help of the above pointers.