Many people mistakenly believe they must comply with all of law enforcement’s requests. I am here to tell you that you do have rights that allow you to refuse to comply with the law enforcement’s requests to submit to field sobriety tests when you are pulled over for a DUI. You also have rights after a DUI arrest that allows you to contest the DUI charges.
If you are pulled over for a DUI, the police officer must have reason to believe you have been drinking. He may acquire probable cause that you have been drinking based on several indicators including: slow responses to traffic signals, headlights off, turning abruptly or illegally, stopping inappropriately, driving into opposing or crossing traffic, or braking erratically. Note: speeding is not a DUI indicator. Your DUI charges may be dropped if the police officer lacked probable cause to pull you over.
The attending police officer must inform you of your Miranda rights. Most importantly, your Miranda rights include: the right to remain silent, the right to appoint counsel, and the right to have counsel present during questioning. Essentially, this means you don’t have to tell the police officer what bar you just left or how much you have had to drink. You can request an attorney immediately and all questioning must cease. The only information you must give the police officer is information relating to your identification and vehicle such as your driver’s license and insurance.
You also have the right to refuse field sobriety tests. Scientific studies have questioned the accuracy of field sobriety tests. People who are not under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol often have a hard time passing field sobriety tests. Nonetheless, police officers often use field sobriety tests to prove intoxication. By declining to engage in field sobriety tests, you are simply giving the prosecution less evidence to convict you on DUI charges.
Even if the police officer did have probable cause to pull you over, it is quite possible the investigation was conducted in an unlawful manner. After your DUI arrest, you are entitled to a jury trial if you so choose. At trial, you are afforded the right to challenge certain factors including the following: whether or not you were lawfully stopped ad detained, the period of time between arrest and testing, whether or not you were informed of your rights, whether you consented to the alcohol testing and whether the machine was working properly. You may also challenge the DUI charges based on a law unique to South Carolina. South Carolina law requires all DUI arrests to be videotaped. The recording must begin from the moment the police officer pulls you over and must continue until he has completed the arrest. If the arresting officer fails to record the submission of your breathalyzer test and/or the field sobriety test, then you may be able to get the evidence of the videotape suppressed all together and possibly a lighter sentence.
If you are facing DUI charges, contact Daniel A. Selwa, II, immediately. You have constitutionally protected rights during the DUI stop as well as after the stop and DUI attorney Daniel A. Selwa, II can help ensure your rights remain protected. Protecting your rights can mean a lesser sentence or a drop of DUI charges completely.