First and foremost, the best advice to take away from this article is to not drink and drive. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you have had too much to drink and are then stopped by the police, it is important to know and understand your rights.
How do I know if I'm being investigated for DUI?
Under most circumstances following a traffic stop, when an officer suspects the driver has been drinking alcohol, the officer will approach the vehicle window and either carry on a brief conversation with the individual or ask the individual to step outside of the vehicle. Next, the officer may ask a set of routine questions:
- What is your name?
- Where are you coming from?
- Have you been drinking?
- How much have you had to drink?
Folks, these are not ice-breakers. The officer is beginning a DUI investigation. Officers are permitted to ask questions during a traffic stop. This may include questions about how much you have had to drink and where you have been. You do not have to answer any of them.
So, what do you have to say and do if you find yourself in this situation? The answer is nothing, other than cooperate. What does cooperate mean? If the officer asks for a driver's license, proof of insurance and registration information, let them see these things.
Field Sobriety, Breath & Blood Tests
During the course of a DUI investigation, the officer will usually request the individual perform a series of field sobriety tests. This may include reciting the alphabet, counting while standing on one leg, counting while touching your fingers or your nose, counting while walking a straight line, or staring at their flashlight while the officer "studies" your eye movement (horizontal gaze nystagmus test).
If you find yourself in this situation, it will ultimately be your decision whether or not you want to submit to this series of tests, but you have the right to refuse to do any of them. Remember, this is a DUI investigation. The less you give the officer (the government) to use against you, the better chance your attorney has of defending your case.
You've been arrested. Now, you have been asked to submit to a blood test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). You have the right to refuse to take this test. There may be consequences for your refusal to submit to the blood test (violation of the implied consent law in Tennessee).
You have to ask yourself: "Do I want to live with the consequences of refusing to submit to a blood test (which the officer must generally explain to an individual before asking for a blood sample); or do I want to live with the consequences of a DUI conviction?"
We can't repeat this enough: The officers are investigating a DUI and everything you say and do will be used against you. The more information the government has (field sobriety tests, statements about where you have been, how much you have had to drink, and your blood alcohol content), the better the evidence may be against you in a DUI prosecution.
If the officer wants to know you blood alcohol content bad enough, the officer may apply for a search warrant. However, that warrant will be based on evidence the officer obtains during the investigation. If the officer gets the warrant, don't physically resist. You'll have your day in court.
Speak with a Murfreesboro DUI Lawyer Today
If you have been arrested for DUI, another criminal offense or are the subject of a criminal investigation, call Murfreesboro criminal defense attorneys Thomas Parkerson and Tommy Santel at Parkerson | Santel PLLC.