Why You Should Not Take Field Sobriety Tests
People naturally have a fear of the police when stopped or going through a safety checkpoint. They will usually do everything an officer tells them to do so they can get back into their vehicles and drive away.
Unfortunately, having a few drinks somewhere and driving to another location can get you into serious trouble. Even one drink can get you arrested as it is now called buzzed driving.
Never submit to a sobriety test of any kind if you are stopped or drive through a checkpoint. Never take a breath test at the location of the stop. All you are required to do is give the officer your license and insurance registration if he requests it. You don’t have to answer any questions concerning impairment or the ability to drive.
If an officer has suspicion to believe you are impaired, you will be arrested and taken to jail. Once at the jail, they might try to persuade you to take a breathalyzer test. Refuse the test and ask to call an attorney. A blood test is only mandatory if you were involved in an automobile accident.
Whether you drink or not isn’t the problem. The facts are that many people are mistakenly considered impaired because they have to take prescription medication. Sometimes a medical condition can affect driving capability. If you do drink and drive, the possibility exists that you will lose your driving privileges for a few months whether you take the tests or refuse them.
Sometimes the officer might request you say the alphabet backwards. Other testing is for balance and eye movement. All these tests can be difficult to perform. Many people have poor balance to begin with and will fail any balance test quickly. Tests are designed to help the officer get a conviction. Refuse any of these tests so your Los Angeles DUI lawyer has a better chance at helping you in court and possibly saving your license.
What To Do If You Are Stopped
Signs that you are intoxicated can be obvious. Bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and smelling like a distillery can give you away in a hurry. You deserve to go to jail, lose your license and be charged with driving under the influence if you are intoxicated to this kind of level.
The legal limit to be arrested for drunk driving is at .08 percent blood alcohol level. It only takes several drinks to get to that level. The odds are in your favor if you have only consumed a couple of alcoholic drinks before driving.
· Only give the officer your identification and registration.
· Obey his order to step from the vehicle.
· Refuse to submit to sobriety test and breath test.
· Grant permission for him to look inside the vehicle for evidence
· If arrested, ask to call an attorney after being jailed.
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Things to Never Do
· Avoid having empty alcoholic containers in your vehicle. (You can be charged with an open container violation for each one in your vehicle)
· Never carry prescription medication in any container but the one it was purchased in.
· Don’t haul opened alcoholic containers such as a pint of whiskey around in the vehicle.
· If you do drink, avoid driving until you are completely sober.
What is an Interlock Device?
An interlock device is a mechanism that can be installed on a vehicle which contains a breathalyzer that measures the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). If the BAC is higher than a set amount, which varies from one state to the other, the ignition interlock device will prevent the vehicle from being started. Most interlock devices will also require drivers to provide breath samples at random times after the engine has started. This is done in an effort to prevent the user from “cheating” the system by having someone else provide a clean breath sample. If the driver fails to provide a subsequent breath sample, or if the breath sample exceeds the preset limit, the device will sound an alarm until the engine is shut off or until a breath sample that passes is provided.
The interlock device will also have a built-in memory that keeps track of all activity on the device, such as the number of times that a driver failed a breath test. It is also able to monitor activity on the vehicle’s electrical system, which could detect attempts to bypass the interlock. The device will need to be periodically calibrated and inspected at an authorized service center at intervals that can range from 1 to 3 months.
An interlock device is mainly used on vehicles that are owned or operated by drivers who have been charged with driving under the influence. Each state has laws that permit authorities to impose an interlock device on drivers that have been charged with or convicted of certain offences related to driving under the influence. In all cases, the fees associated with the installation and maintenance of the interlock device will have to be paid for by the driver that has been charged with the offence.
Even though all states have laws allowing them to impose an interlock device restriction on drivers, as motor vehicle laws are the responsibility of state legislatures, the specifics of when and for how long an ignition interlock device can be imposed on a driver will therefore vary.
Certain states will impose an interlock condition on anyone that has been convicted of driving under the influence, even on a first offence. Others have different rules. For example, in Massachusetts, a driver who is convicted of a second or subsequent DUI offence and is eligible to have their license reinstated or a hardship license issued will be required to have an interlock device installed on any vehicle that they operate. In North Carolina, a first conviction for driving while impaired with a BAC that exceeds 0.15 will require the driver to use one in their vehicle. As laws and regulations vary from one jurisdiction to the next and can change from time to time, anyone that is being charged with a DUI related offence should consult an attorney to receive up-to-date information on the topic.
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What is an Administrative Suspension Hearing in a DUI Case?
When a person is arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), he or she will face two different types of potential penalties: criminal and administrative. The criminal charge of DUI will be heard in a court of law and may result in a monetary fine and / or incarceration. An administrative charge of DUI may result in the suspension of his or her driving privileges. It is important for a person charged with DUI to understand the administrative suspension process in order to properly protect his or her rights.
Most states have an administrative suspension process. This means that the state will suspend the driver’s license of anyone charged with criminal DUI or anyone who refuses to submit to sobriety tests at the time he or she is pulled over by police. Administrative suspension notices can be given immediately when a person is stopped or will arrive through the mail in the days following the traffic stop, depending on the laws in the area where the stop occurred. When a person receives notice of an administrative suspension, he or she can request that the licensing authority schedule an administrative suspension hearing about the license suspension in front of an administrative official.
The request for an administrative suspension hearing will result in the licensing agency scheduling a hearing where an administrative official will determine whether or not the suspension is proper. In most cases, the arresting officer will be required to attend the hearing to give testimony regarding the traffic stop and what the officer observed that made him or her determine that the driver was intoxicated. Even if a driver believes that he or she is guilty of the DUI charge, it can still be a wise decision to request a hearing. In most jurisdictions, a person’s license is reinstated when he or she requests an administrative hearing. The license will then be in effect, allowing the accused to drive, until the hearing is held.
It is important to note that the result of an administrative suspension hearing has no bearing on what will be decided regarding the criminal charges. For example, a person could have his or her license suspended but be found not guilty of the criminal charges. As DUI charges can have serious consequences, a person charged with DUI should consider hiring an experienced attorney to help defend him or her from both the administrative and criminal penalties of the charge.
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What is a DUI or Sobriety Checkpoint?
The next time that you have a few drinks with friends and hop in your car to head home, you might want to think about the sobriety checkpoints you pass along your way. Often used by law enforcement officials as a way to catch those driving with a high blood alcohol concentration, many jurisdictions also allow those officers to check vehicles, drivers and their passengers for other signs of illegal activities. These checkpoints often take place during and around major holidays, including Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. Learning more about those checkpoints can show you what to expect when you encounter one.
What is a Sobriety Checkpoint?
A sobriety checkpoint, sometimes called a DUI checkpoint, is a roadblock often placed in the middle of a major road. Police officers working at the checkpoint stop every card moving in either direction down the road and administer sobriety tests as needed. Some checkpoints will require that every driver on the road take a breathalyzer test, while other checkpoints will only administer tests to those acting in a suspicious manner that makes police officers working the scene believe the driver is intoxicated.
Field Sobriety Test vs. Breathalyzer
When stopped at a checkpoint, the officers at the scene have the right to administer either a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer test. The breathalyzer test consists of a small tube that runs into a box that tests your breath and determines your blood alcohol concentration. If the officer chooses a field sobriety test, the officer will request that you get out of your vehicle and perform a few tests to check your reflexes and sobriety. If the officer on the scene believes you’re guilty of a DUI, the officer may ask that you complete both tests.
Consequences of Failing
Failing one or both of the tests issued at a checkpoint leaves you facing a DUI charge. The officers at the scene have the legal right to arrest you for a DUI and take you back to the station until a family member can bail you out of jail. Some officers will give you some leniency on the scene. You may have the chance to let one of your passengers drive your vehicle home or call for another ride. This usually only occurs in cases where the officers cannot leave the scene, cannot find another officer to take you to the station or due to the amount of people at the checkpoint.
Reasons Behind Checkpoints
Many states use sobriety checkpoints as a way to reduce the number of DUI cases in the region and to keep the streets safer. Typically placed in major parts of town, these checkpoints allow officers to get people off the streets who might cause a car accident because of their blood alcohol concentrations. Some states also let officers observe and check cars for signs of illegal drugs and other crimes. Keeping your BAC at a reasonable level and avoiding driving while intoxicated can keep the streets safer and reduce your risk of failing one of the tests issued at a checkpoint.
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What is a Breathalyzer?
A Breathalyzer is a device that’s used by law enforcement officials to measure a person’s blood alcohol content or BAC by having that person breathe into it. The first true Breathalyzer was created by Robert Frank Borkenstein in 1954, and the first handheld version was invented in Britain in 1967. Earlier methods of determining BAC by breathing date back to 1927, and the idea of using a person’s breath goes back to 1874.
These devices work by oxidizing any ethanol in your breath into acetic acid and water, and this reaction creates an electric current within the device that can give an approximation of your BAC. Newer versions use a fuel cell sensor that can detect many variables that used to result in false positives.
There are two types of Breathalyzers prevalent. One is a desktop version that’s used in homes, businesses, and even some cars. A handheld version is used by police officers when performing field sobriety tests, and all breath testers used by police are certified by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. When someone is arrested for DUI, they will be taken to the nearest police station and given a formal breath test since some handheld devices aren’t completely reliable. If the test shows a BAC of .08 or higher, then the suspect will be formally charged.
The device’s reading will be registered as evidence in court, and many states require juries to presume a high BAC reading in DUI cases. However, they can disregard the findings if the test is considered to be faulty or other forms of evidence raise reasonable doubts.
There are several ways that a Breathalyzer test can be considered erroneous, but the most common is the presence of mouth alcohol. This can come from recently using mouthwash, recent drinking before taking the test or even belching. To reduce the possibility of errors, police officers are usually required to observe a DUI suspect for 15-20 minutes before administering a breath test. Another common possibility is that the test was performed while the suspect’s body was still absorbing alcohol, which can lead to false positives.
What are the Top Mistakes Made After a DUI Arrest?
Charges of driving under the influence (DUI) are taken very seriously by police and the larger justice system. It is important to act appropriately and in your own best interest after a DUI arrest. Unfortunately, there are many mistakes that are commonly made that can negatively influence the outcome of the case. It is important to understand some of the top mistakes that people make after a DUI arrest.
Talking About the Case
A top mistake that people make after a DUI arrest is talking about the case. This means recounting the events that lead to the arrest or any resulting accident. Talking to police, friends or other parties involved in the case is a major mistake. You should answer police and insurance questions with simple answers. Do not reveal too much information. This is because your description of the events could actually be admitting guilt. These revelations can make winning your case very difficult. You should not give full statements to insurers or others until you have spoken with a Los Angeles DUI attorney.
Not Seeking Legal Representation
Another mistake make people make is to not seek legal representation. DUI cases are very serious and can lead to jail time, a suspended license and large fines. You will want to secure the services of an attorney with DUI experience as soon as possible after the arrest occurs. You never want to represent yourself since prosecutors will take full advantage of your inexperience. You also want to avoid taking legal advice from friends or other people who have been involved in DUI cases before. The best course of action is to find and hire a Los Angeles DUI attorney in the area for representation right away.
Ignoring the Case
A top mistake is to simply ignore the case. A DUI charge is taken just as seriously as all other criminal charges in the state. You must remain engaged with law enforcement and the legal system. This means opening and reading all communications. You must listen to and respond to official state and court requests. You must show up for every court date on time. Failing to do any of these things could result in the issuance of a bench warrant for your arrest along with additional charges. DUI cases are not minor issues. They will not just go away just because you are ignoring the courts.
Not Requesting A DMV Hearing
Many people fail to request a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or another government agency after the arrest. If you do not request this type of administrative hearing with the correct agency in your state, then your license to drive will be automatically suspended for anywhere from a year to five years. Requesting this hearing allows you to explain your situation and any mitigating factors. Your license might not be suspended. You might also get special exemptions to drive to work or school. You need to request this hearing quickly. Most states give you only 10 days or less to request the hearing before a suspension occurs.
Even though a first time DUI is considered a misdemeanor crime, you are still entitled to have a jury trial if you feel the charges were unfounded. Being able to make the claim you were innocent is difficult on your own, this is an area the Los Angeles DUI lawyers specialize, and can work to get the charged lessened or the case dismissed.
Here are a few of the ways your attorney will fight to get the first time DUI dismissed in court;
Operating Vehicle in Intoxicated Manner
One reason you were arrested for your first DUI was because the officer pulled your car over because they said you were operating the vehicle in an intoxicated manner. Maybe the officer observed your car weaving out of the lane or drifting on the the shoulder. A good Los Angeles DUI lawyer will be able to show the court that the driver was in fact coming off a week of working extra shifts and simply was tired while driving home. Although it was not a good idea to get behind the wheel, driving while tired is not a criminal offense.
Your attorney may also be able to show the officer did not have any grounds to pull the vehicle over because the driver was simply reaching for something that fell while they were driving or mixed prescription medications and was having a reaction while behind the wheel.
Performing Poorly on Field Sobriety Tests
Once the officer suspects the driver is intoxicated and has the vehicle safely pulled to the side of the road, they will ask the driver to perform one or more field sobriety tests. Since there are numerous tests that could be administered, the officer has the discretion to choose which test the driver will perform. In many cases, the tests are extremely challenging even for someone completely sober to perform. Your attorney could show that a sober person who is terrified of the officer may not be able to recite the alphabet backwards in ideal conditions.
Your Los Angeles DUI lawyer will put the officer on the stand and question why they choose certain tests and neglected others. The pressure to perform challenging tasks in the middle of the night could affect the results.
The Objective Symptoms of Intoxication
The arresting officer will be questioned as to why they felt that the driver was intoxicated and deserved to be arrested under suspicion of DUI. The officer may have noted in their report that the driver had slurred speech, could not walk a straight line, had bloodshot eyes, or was unable to stay upright during testing. Although these are typically symptoms of DUI, they can also be symptoms of a number of medical issues that the officer did not want to consider that evening.
Despite the driver explaining about a medical condition or a reaction to new medication, the officer proceeded with the field tests and made the determination the driver was intoxicated. The Los Angeles DUI lawyers will be able to show evidence to the court the driver does have medical conditions that have those symptoms, or the medication they take could result in those symptoms that mimicked the driver being intoxicated.
Failing Breath and Blood Testings
Although failing the blood and breath test are grounds for serious penalties in a DUI case, your lawyer can disprove the evidence a number of ways. After doing their research, the attorney could discover the equipment used has a history of providing false readings. The officer performing the test may have a history of making mistakes, or they are new to the job and didn’t calibrate the equipment properly.
In most cases, a skilled Los Angeles DUI lawyer can negotiate to a lesser charge like reckless driving or get the case dismissed.
Your Los Angeles DUI lawyers have been in the business of disputing this type evidence for decades. Don’t risk your financial future by trying to dispute the charges on your own, you have one chance to give the court reason to believe the officer was wrong, and it is an uphill climb. The Los Angeles DUI lawyers will work tirelessly on your defense to get you the outcome you’re hoping for.