Many people are not fully aware of the rights they have as citizens being arrested or facing criminal charges. Most people think they have a right to an attorney, but do not know when, where, and how they can invoke that right. If you've never been arrested, this is an understandable area of confusion. California's criminal justice system can be complicated if you are unfamiliar with it and many people are not aware of all the rights they hold. A DUI arrest is no different than any other arrest. You will be granted certain rights and protections specific to the situation you are in, regardless of the charge you face.
While it is true you have the right to an attorney when facing criminal charges, you can only invoke this right under certain circumstances. If you are pulled over on suspicion of a DUI, in most cases the officer will begin the process by asking a few questions. This commences the DUI investigation, but you do not yet have the right to an attorney. You may be asked to take a roadside sobriety test or complete a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, test. Until you are arrested, however, you do not have the right to speak with an attorney during the process. You do have the right to not answer any questions that could incriminate you, and you have the right to refuse to submit to any kind of a test. Keep in mind, however, that your refusal to submit to a test will most likely lead to an arrest anyways. Once you are arrested for a DUI, there will be consequences if you do not cooperate. In particular, the DMV will take automatic administrative action against your driving privileges. The California DMV will suspend your license if you refuse to take a BAC test when lawfully arrested for a DUI. If you refuse to submit to a BAC test when arrested for a DUI, that refusal can be held against you in your case and you will most likely be forced to take one anyways. You also do not have the right to speak with an attorney before taking a BAC test, because at that point it is no longer optional and you will be required to take one.
It is easy to misunderstand the whole DUI arrest process without speaking with an attorney. The police officer should be informing you of some of your rights and the possible consequences of your actions, but he or she might not do so. It is best to know ahead of time what to expect because it is not uncommon for officers to omit certain information they are required to provide you. So if you don't have a right to an attorney during the initial investigation and when confronted with a BAC test request before being arrested, when do you have the right to an attorney? This is a great question because it is a right you should always exercise. Once taken into custody, you have a right to an attorney before being questioned. You also have the right to remain silent and to not provide information that could incriminate you. These are also called your Miranda Rights and are communicated through the Miranda Warning. You should be advised of these rights and you should be granted a public defender if you do not have the resources to hire an attorney. These rights are protected under the Fifth Amendment. Never submit to questioning once in custody without first speaking with an attorney. What you say during questioning definitely will be held against you in your case and could end up convicting you. If you are not advised of this right and do not invoke it, what you say during questioning may be suppressed. This means it cannot be used as evidence against you in your case. An attorney will have to file a motion to have it suppressed, however, and this can be a complex process.
Are you or a loved one facing DUI charges? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for help in Tulare, Fresno or Kings County. Experienced in DUI defense, our Visalia area legal team can ensure the rights you have are defended. Attorney Martens has over ten years experience in criminal defense and has taken over 50 cases to trial; he has the experienced needed to skillfully handle DUI trials. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.