If you were pulled over for drinking and driving or charged with a DUI, you still have legal rights that must be honored. It is important to understand your legal rights when you get pulled over, if you get arrested and throughout the legal process of a DUI case, because it can have a significant impact on your case.
Evidence that Can Be Used Against You
To understand your legal rights, you must first know what evidence can be used against you in a DUI case.
- Field sobriety test results
- Chemical tests results, such as from a breathalyzer or blood test
- Evidence legally found in the vehicle, such as open alcohol containers
- Footage shot from the dash camera of the officer’s car
- Observations of the officer
- Eyewitness testimony
- Anything you say
Your Legal Rights
The best way to protect yourself in a DUI case is by not offering any evidence that may incriminate you. Understanding the laws and your rights can protect you. Laws vary by state, however, so having an experienced lawyer in your area can help you learn what is within your legal rights.
Speaking with Law Enforcement
An officer may suspect you have been drinking by observations of slurred speech, the smell of alcohol and bloodshot eyes. This can give the officer probable cause to administer tests or arrest you. You are not, however, required to answer questions such as where you are coming from and where you are going. You have the right not to answer any questions that may be incriminating to you.
If an officer requests that you complete a breathalyzer or field sobriety test, in most states you have the right to refuse. It is important to know, however, that refusing a chemical test can have serious consequences, such as license suspension or even jail time. But, if you believe you are over the legal BAC limit of .08%, then failing a breathalyzer test can lead to an immediate DUI conviction. Conversely, without chemical test results, your BAC may never be on record, and therefore, cannot be used against you in court. If you decide to refuse a test and the officer arrests you, it is best to contact a DUI lawyer as soon as possible so you can build a defense for why you refused the test.
Giving Information if Arrested
When arrested, you may have to provide identification and fingerprints, as well as any questions required by state law to be answered. Aside from what is necessary for processing you, you have the right to remain silent. If you are interrogated or interviewed, you are not required to provide information that may incriminate you. Your behavior and anything you say can and most likely will be used against you in your case, so it is always advised to say no more than what is required, present good behavior and ask for a lawyer.
Your Right to a Lawyer
If you are arrested, you should ask for a lawyer as soon as you can. If you do not already have a lawyer, you should contact an experienced DUI lawyer who can help you start building a defense strategy. This is especially important if you refused any tests. Not only can a lawyer help build a defense, but they can help you to understand the laws in your state and your specific rights. In addition, they will represent you, protect your rights and fight for your interests throughout the duration of the case.