December 30, 2013
Lately, I have been asked many questions about Driving Under the Influence charges (AKA “DUIs”). This could have to do with it being the holiday season, and everyone being concerned about “what to do” if they find themselves being pulled over after having too much to drink. The volume of questions could also have to do with relatively recent changes in the law concerning DUIs. Despite the cause of the numerous inquiries, or the specific questions themselves, the best answer I have is DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE! Trust me, while calling a cab may seem like an expensive hassle at the time, it is nothing compared to the expense and hassle of dealing with a DUI charge.
That said, I do have some information and opinions regarding “what to do” if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation:
1. If asked to submit to a field sobriety test, which is where the law enforcement officer has a person walk a straight line, stand on one foot, etc., in my opinion, the best response is to respectfully decline submitting to the test. Many people don’t know they have the option of declining to take a field sobriety test, or that there is no legal ramification for declining.
2. “To blow or not to blow, that is the question!” This is by far the question I hear most often relating to DUIs. Unfortunately, there is not a simple answer.
Let us begin with the most simple scenario: a person who has not consumed any alcohol is asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. Breathalyzer tests are more accurate than most people perceive them to be. Their accuracy depends upon proper calibration, as well as a whole list of other procedures. But, for the purpose of this scenario, we are going to assume the breathalyzer is in pristine, working order. In my opinion, the person should submit to the test.
A more complicated scenario: a person who has consumed a substantial amount of alcohol is asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. Looking at this scenario from the criminal case perspective, it is better to have a client who was very intoxicated not blow versus one who did. The view from the license revocation case with DPS is bleak whether the very intoxicated client blew or didn’t – he or she will likely have his or her license revoked either way.
The most complicated scenario: a person who has consumed a few alcoholic beverages, but does not feel they are intoxicated, is asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. If the person does not believe they are intoxicated, they might as well give the breathalyzer a go. If they don’t, they will lose their license anyway, as well as have the refusal to submit to the breathalyzer test used against them as evidence of intoxication in the criminal case. If the person does submit to the test, at least there is the chance of blowing under the legal limit, not losing their license, and having a lesser criminal charge of DWI brought against them/not having criminal charges brought at all.
3. Can a person be criminally charged for “driving while high”? Most certainly. This charge is often referred to as “DUI Drugs”, and I see it constantly. Driving Under the Influence is not limited to driving under the influence of alcohol.
I hope this post has answered some of the common questions many have regarding DUI charges, and shed some light on “what to do” if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation. Remember, the best thing to do is to avoid putting yourself in this situation altogether!