Driving any vehicle is a complex procedure. It requires patience, concentration, and most importantly, competence. You run the risk of causing serious damage while driving under impairment due to alcohol or drug abuse. The offense of driving while affected by alcohol or drugs is termed as driving under influence (DUI). It generally refers to driving under the influence of alcohol.
Though the legal age of drinking varies throughout the world, a DUI charge is punishable by law everywhere. Driving under influence is a serious offence and poses risks to:
- The driver and his vehicle,
- The passenger/s (if any), and
- The people and vehicles on the road.
DUI charges are grave blemishes on your character certificate. If charged, you must hire a competent DUI attorney to plead your case. Currently, many jurisdictions also charge the passenger with abetting the DUI.
Incidentally, there is an entire episode of events that transpire before you can receive a DUI charge.
5 Steps for Legally Dodging DUI Charges
Excessive consumption of alcohol is injurious to health. However, drunken driving is far more fatal. You surrender your body and your vehicle to the decision-making capabilities of your mind. Ironically, if you have had too much to drink, you have not been making smart choices!
Alternatively, perhaps you have been drinking responsibly and are within the permissible limit. Moreover, there may be several other reasons for which the law enforcer may ask you to pull over. Processing of DUI charges may vary across jurisdictions. In any case, remember to be calm and composed and adhere to the following steps.
1. Pullover Peacefully
The very first step is to cooperate with the officer of the law and pull your vehicle over. Irrespective of whether you are severely intoxicated, or not at all, you should always try to be polite and respectful. The police are not your enemy, so do not pick any useless argument with her/him.
2. Remember the Details
Though many would suggest this as the very last step, yet the key to win legal matters is in the details. Commit as much as possible to memory, and write down the details at your earliest convenience.
Some of the details that you should remember are:
- When are where did you interact with the police?
- What was the name of the police officer?
- Why reason did the police provide for stopping you?
- What tests did the police run on you?
- What information did you share with the officer?
You will not be very aware of what is happening if you are heavily drunk or genuinely under influence. Try to be as alert as possible, since the presence or absence of details can influence your case’s outcome.
3. Be Polite but Avoid Answering Potentially Incriminating Questions
Remember to be cooperative while the police interrogate you. Be polite in your tone and mannerisms, but avoid going overboard. The police could construe your extra efforts to be sarcastic or whimsical. However, the officer is less likely to arrest you or press a DUI charge if you are sincere and helpful.
Exit your vehicle if you are asked to, and if you are comfortable, then attempt the field sobriety tests. You are already in a host of trouble if you are genuinely under influence. Hence, cooperating with the authorities is your best chance at any respite.
Furthermore, be sure of yourself and avoid giving any incriminating answers. Police officers are trained at using the suddenness of the moment to intimidate offenders. Additionally, you may suddenly feel overwhelmed, and are more likely to incriminate yourself if you are lying.
Do not resist divulging necessary information such as your name, address, license, and registration. However, if you feel you are likely to incriminate yourself, talk to the officer. Politely inform the police that you would like to consult a lawyer before answering any further questions.
Consequently, the police may pressurize you, or arrest you and seize your license, but that is better than incriminating oneself. Use your best judgment to decide how much information you should divulge. Usually, consuming a couple of glasses of wine should not push your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) beyond the permissible limit.
Dishonesty is never a good idea. Speak the truth, but keep your speech measured. The prosecution can use your action of lying to a police officer against you in a court of law.
4. Be Clear About the Field Test and Breathalyser Analysis
The field sobriety test is not a compulsion. These tests cannot measure your level of intoxication, and rather offer subjective clues to the officer. Moreover, this test is not always reliable. There may be other reasons such as uneasy fitted clothes or any bodily injury that can impede the test performance. However, refusing the field sobriety test can lead to a suspension of your license, and attract a DUI charge.
A breathalyzer helps determine the level of blood alcohol concentration in your body. Additionally, you can refuse to “blow” into the roadside breathalyzer, since results can often be skewed. Especially if you have had a few drinks, refuse the breathalyzer. Consequently, the police officer can suspend your license and charge you with a DUI as a result of your refusal.
Rather, if you are unsure about the roadside tests, you can request a blood or urine test. Various hospitals and police stations allow such tests. Generally, a medical officer conducts these tests. Having your license suspended temporarily is better than going to jail based on skewed results. You may have to take a breathalyzer test at the police station though.
In case you are not driving under influence, you can surely take any of the field tests without any issue.
5. Contact a DUI Attorney
Being pulled over for suspected DUI can only end in either of two results—with or without a charge. Let us assume that you have DUI charges to your name. Consequently, you will have to defend yourself in a court of law. Incidentally, you may also have to visit the DMV and settle your license suspension.
Engage an advocate who is reliable and competent. Locating an expert attorney in your area of requirement can be difficult. Thus, you can use legal management software to help locate a DUI attorney. Conduct thorough research before you engage an attorney.
Be Responsible: Do Not Drive Under Influence
Excessive drinking is not a good idea under any circumstance. Moreover, most jurisdictions proscribe drug usage. Ideally, you can plan your activities alcohol-free and make them engaging otherwise. Furthermore, as a responsible host, you should ensure that everybody returns home safely.
Different jurisdictions have different permissible BAC limits set under their respective laws. Be aware of your state and country rules and laws. Incurring DUI charges is not the end of the world, but it can reflect poorly on your personal record. Additionally, the Court may order you to engage in community service or attend referral programs.
Moreover, potential employers may also have access to your personal and criminal records, and DUI charges can be a red flag. Therefore, be responsible and do not drive under influence.