As a citizen of the United States, you know you have certain rights and responsibilities, and this is true even if you’re suspected of breaking the law. It’s essential everyone understands their rights under such circumstances, and one such instance is if you’re ever pulled over for a DUI. DUI laws will vary from state to state and unfortunately, unless you’re aware of and assert these rights, law enforcement officers may try to take advantage of their authority which may lead to an arrest.
For more information on fighting DUI charges, contact me at Darryl A. Stallworth Law Office in Oakland, California. I’m able to help clients all around the Bay Area including Alameda County, Northern California, and San Francisco.
When you ask yourself, “What are my rights when being pulled over for a DUI?” the first thing to know is that you aren’t required to answer any questions. You are required to provide documentation like your driver’s license, registration, and insurance information, but you don’t have to offer additional information such as where you were, where you’re going, or whether you’ve been drinking. Even so, you should always be respectful in all your communication—but still politely state you won’t be answering the officer’s questions.
You have a right to request a copy of any police report that’s filed against you. This will contain key information about the charges and your criminal defense attorney will need this as they investigate your case.
Under the Fourth Amendment, you’re protected from unlawful search or seizure of your belongings. In order to search your car, the officer needs to have probable cause such as observing you hiding something in your car or smelling alcohol in your car. If there is no such evidence or reasonable suspicion and an officer asks to search your person or your vehicle, you can refuse. Furthermore, if the evidence is found after an illegal search, it may be inadmissible in court and could result in your charges being dismissed.
Like most states, California has an “implied consent” law that requires anyone operating a vehicle on state roadways to automatically consent to chemical tests if they’re under reasonable suspicion of driving under the influence. However, this does not apply to field sobriety tests such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, or the one-leg stand test. These tests are often administered incorrectly and can give officers an inaccurate gauge of your level of intoxication.
The implied consent law only applies to breath or chemical tests done at a police station, and does not apply to a preliminary or portable breath test that are often carried in police cars. You can refuse to take these tests, although there may be a penalty associated with this like having your license suspended. However, if your charges are dismissed, this suspension can also be overturned.
Perhaps most importantly, you have the right to contact an attorney before speaking with or answering questions from law enforcement. By working with an experienced DUI attorney from the start, you’ll greatly increase your chances of successfully fighting these charges.
Being arrested for a DUI is a serious matter and one that should always be handled by a professional. If you’re in the Oakland, California area and would like help fighting your DUI charges, reach out to me at Darryl A. Stallworth Law Office.