Understanding Your Rights at a Checkpoint
If you have ever been pulled over for suspected drunk driving, you may have realized just how frightening of an experience it can be. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to protect yourself from self-incrimination. This starts by understanding your rights. If you do not understand your rights, there is no way for you to know when they have been violated.
Simple Steps to Follow at a DUI Checkpoint
First, it is important to understand that the police need a reason to stop you. Without having reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence and/or witnessing a traffic violation, they would have no reason to make an initial stop—apart from conducting a sobriety checkpoint.
Next, you must understand that you are under no obligation to answer any questions about how much you have had to drink. Apart from providing your driver's license and vehicle registration, you are not required to offer any further information. In fact, it can be detrimental to do so. Admitting to having even one drink may give the officer probable cause to administer a breathalyzer test, so it may be in your best interests to politely invoke your right to remain silent.
Without confirming that you have consumed alcohol prior to driving, the officer must base his decision to pursue a DUI arrest solely on your driving and/or any suspicious behavior that they have witnessed during the traffic stop. If they ask you to step out of the vehicle and perform a series of field sobriety tests, you have the right to decline.
Consequences for Refusing a Chemical Test
If they have reasonable suspicion that you are intoxicated, however, they can compel you to take a chemical test (i.e. breath, blood or urine test). While you do have the right to refuse, you cannot do so without accepting the consequences—which, in the state of California, includes the automatic suspension of your driver's license and a fine.
It is also important to note that you could still be charged with DUI even after refusing. For this reason, most lawyers would recommend that you comply. Even if the test shows a blood-alcohol concentration of .08% or greater, there are ways that a Fairfield criminal defense lawyer can challenge the results. In fact, it is usually much easier to fight a DUI conviction later on if you keep these tips in mind during a DUI traffic stop.
Whether you have already been arrested for drunk driving or you still have questions about what to do during a DUI stop, the legal team at Maas Law Offices is here to help.