How Did I End Up Being Investigated for a DUI?

This month we are providing you with a general breakdown of what a typical DUI investigation consists of and we will follow up with a detailed explanation of the Field Sobriety tests in the coming months.

Reason for the Stop

Typically the officer will say in his report that he made a decision to pull you over because he observed some sort of moving violation like failing to stop at a stop sign, running a red light, swerving across lanes, or speeding. He could also claim that he saw some non-moving violation like a broken taillight, objects hanging from the rear view mirror, or expired tags. In other situations, the officer isn’t pulling you over — instead — the contact results from what is referred to as a “welfare check” – the officer sees you sleeping in your car on the side of the road, you fell asleep with the car running and your foot on the brake at a stop light, you were involved in a solo vehicle collision (like running into a divider) or you were involved in a collision with another vehicle and someone called the police to the scene. There are various reasons for why a cop would make contact with you but once he does here is what they usually claim to observe in relation to a DUI.

Exiting the Vehicle

The officer will walk over to your vehicle and ask for your license and registration (yes they can ask for this and yes you should provide it for identification purposes). He will then report whether he observed the odor of alcohol emanating from your vehicle, whether your speech was thick and slurred, if you had red/watery eyes, and other “objective signs of intoxication.” If these objective signs of intoxication are observed then he will tell you to get out of the car to continue his DUI investigation. (Do you have to get out of the car…. Yes – or they will say you were resisting and delaying a peace officer and then pull you out).

Pre-Field Sobriety Test Questions

The officer will then ask a series of pre-field sobriety questions including but not limited to: were you driving the vehicle, were you drinking, what were you drinking, how much did you have to drink, when did you start and stop drinking, where are you coming from, where are you going, are you on medication, do you have any physical defects, is there anything wrong with your car, and so on. These questions are clearly not for the purpose of identifying who you are and YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ANSWER THEM – you can politely refuse to answer any questions that don’t have to do with your identity.

Field Sobriety Tests

The officer will then ask you to complete a series of field sobriety tests that could include the Walk and Turn test where they have you walk heel to toe on a line and turn around while counting, the One Leg Stand where you stand with one foot raised while counting, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test where they test how well your eyes track a stimulus, and a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test which is a roadside breath test to determine your alcohol content. Our next blog will go into detail about what these tests consist of and what “clues” the officers are looking for. The important thing to know right now is that YOU CAN REFUSE TO TAKE THESE TESTS including the breath test (unless you are already on probation for a prior DUI).

Arrest

If the officer determines that you are under the influence based on your driving, objective signs of intoxication, admissions to drinking, performance on the field sobriety tests, your test results on the PAS or any combination of factors then he will likely take you into custody. At the jail, you will be booked and required to submit to a breath or blood test. If you refuse you will suffer a license suspension because of the implied consent law and the police will get a warrant and then draw your blood anyway. You will spend some time in a holding cell and then in most cases you will be released with a notice to appear in court.

If you find yourself in a predicament where you have been arrested for a DUI call our office immediately. We believe that everyone deserves high quality, professional representation when defending against a DUI. Call us today to see how we can help defend you!

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