Driving under the influence or DUI is a harsh charge that can damage your driving record for many years. Being influenced by a substance, from alcohol to prescription drugs, causes you to drive erratically. It’s the officers’ jobs to maintain safe streets so pulling you over is part of their protocols. However, you have rights as you’re pulled over for DUI. Learn what is legal and illegal during a standard stop.
Showing Probable Cause
You can’t be pulled over for no reason. Police officers must have probable cause to pull you over. If you’re suspected of DUI, you may have driven with the headlights off or swerved along the roadway. Both of these actions are legal grounds to pull you over. When the officer walks up to your vehicle, he or she should state why they pulled you over. They must offer a specific reason or else the stop isn’t a legal one.
Answering the Questions
Regardless if you’re guilty or not guilty of DUI, the officers will ask you several questions. Drinking amounts, times and other information may be asked of the driver. From a legal standpoint, you don’t have to answer these questions. You can decline to provide an answer. However, the officers may perceive this defiance as disrespectful. Choose your words carefully, and tell them that you’re going to contact your Alameda DUI lawyer as an alternative. This statement may neutralize the situation into a more civil conversation.
Performing a Sobriety Test
When the officers suspect that you’ve been drinking, they can ask for a field-sobriety test. Walking a line or breathing into an analyzer are common choices among law-enforcement officers. There’s an ongoing debate about the legality of these tests. If you decline, this action will often be held against you. You may be perfectly sober, but walking a straight line is difficult. Use your best judgement when it comes to tests and your particular comfort level.
Allowing a Search
Officers cannot search your car without your permission or a warrant. However, there is an exception to this rule. If the officers smell or see any drug influences in the vehicle, they have a right to search it. Be smart by maintaining an immaculate vehicle. The officers will have no reason to search it otherwise.
If the proper protocols aren’t followed in these situations, your DUI arrest may not be valid. A judge might throw it out of court if your rights are violated or laws are broken on the officer’s side. Be aware of your rights so that any encounters with law enforcement are positive and fair. They’re ultimately in the neighborhood to protect and serve the public.