Being pulled over for a traffic offense is stressful, whether it is speeding or drinking and driving. You might not know why you are being pulled over and that can add to the stress of the situation. When an officer suspects you have been drinking and driving, they will pull you over and then first go through a series of steps to first identify whether or not you have been drinking, second, assess whether your BAC is above the legal limit and third, arrest you and take you in for a DUI. You could go through the first two steps before an officer Okays you to continue on. You may or may not be given a traffic citation and then sent on your way. If the officer concludes you are over the legal limit, you will then go through the arrest process and will be taken into the local police station. Before that happens, however, the officer will run you through the first two steps. The officer will be noting how you pull over; if you do so unsafely or abruptly, that will be noted. As with any pull over, you will be asked for your license and registration. At this point, the officer is making sure you have a valid license and a properly registered vehicle. This would be done regardless of what you were pulled over for. However, while you provide these documents, the officer will be looking for signs that you are intoxicated. Fumbling for your wallet or registration, not knowing where your license or registration is or talking incoherently are signs the officer will be looking for to assess your level of intoxication. The officer may shine a bright flashlight into your car, to ensure nothing illicit is in the car and that you are not doing anything other than following their prompts. The officer will also use the light to check your eyes and your general appearance and coordination. They will be looking for red eyes, flushed face, sweating or an otherwise disheveled appearance, slurred words and poor coordination. If they see signs that suggest you may have been drinking, they will then ask you if you had been drinking. At this point, regardless of what you are going to say, say it politely. The tone of your voice, the articulation of your words and the general manner with which you talk to them will be noted, regardless of if you admit to having been drinking. Also, never lie. There is no use of lying. If you don't want to say anything incriminating, politely decline answering. Lying, if found out, can be held against you in court. It is OK to not answer potentially incriminating questions but be clear and very concise about why you are not answering. Next, if the officer still suspects you may have been drinking, you will be asked to complete a Standardized Field Sobriety Test, or SFST. It will be a request, not a demand; field sobriety tests are not required by law. Drunk or sober, no one "passes" these tests; they are just an attempt for the officer to collect evidence against you. The tests are subjectively evaluated and leave a lot of room for officer discretion. This is never a good idea to subject yourself to. You may also be asked to blow into a breathalyzer. These can be very inaccurate and again, is voluntary as long as you are not on probation for a DUI or under the legal drinking age. The officer should mention to you that you are not required to take it. At this point, refusing to take it may not look good, especially if the officer already knows you have been drinking. Even if you do not take it and do not take the field sobriety test, you can still be arrested if the officer has reason to believe you have been drinking, based off of initial observations. Once arrested, you are required to take a BAC test, either with a breathalyzer or with a blood or urine test, under California's implied consent law. In the state of California, if you refuse again at the time of arrest, there will be automatic consequences including a fine and a license suspension. This refusal will also be held against you in court. After arrest, you will be taken into the station where you will either be subject to a BAC test, if you did not take one in the field, and processed into the jail.
Have you been arrested for a DUI in the Visalia or Fresno areas? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team. Experienced in multiple DUI defense, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens knows DUI law and can help you achieve the most favorable case outcome given the circumstances. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.