You had a few drinks at the bar and thought you could make it home in one piece … but a cop spotted you swerving and pulled you over for driving under the influence (DUI). Do you need to fess up? Should you call your lawyer or just accept the consequences?
Although many DUI charges end in a guilty plea, the repercussions of these charges can vary.
Here’s what to keep in mind.
How You Behave During a Traffic Stop Makes a Difference
Remaining polite during a traffic stop can make a difference in the extent of your sentence, as behavior is often taken into consideration.
But there’s another reason to know what to do during a traffic stop. You may have made a poor decision in deciding to drive after drinking, but making a couple good decisions while speaking with the police officer can allow you to potentially plead not guilty. These include deciding whether to submit to a breathalyzer test and knowing your fifth amendment right.
To Breathalyze or Not to Breathalyze
First, know that you can refuse to take a breathalyzer test. Your blood alcohol content (BAC) is determined by this test, and a reading higher than 0.08 means you cannot legally operate a vehicle. Taking a breathalyzer test after drinking can be a bit of a gamble. Perhaps you haven’t drunk enough to reach 0.08, in which case you may be let off with a warning.
But a reading higher than 0.08 means you’ll be arrested for a DUI. And pleading not guilty with such specific, quantifiable evidence is certainly a lost cause.
On the other hand, you can refuse to take the breathalyzer test. Not having this measurable information during your trial doesn’t mean it’s easier to plead not guilty. In fact, refusal is often seen as an evasive measure and therefore a subconscious admission of guilt. You might also have your driving privileges immediately revoked for refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test.
The police officer will also submit other evidence that the prosecution can use against you, such as the results of a field sobriety test (i.e., walking in a straight line, one foot in front of the other) and your general behavior.
Remember Your Miranda Rights
If you do get arrested for DUI, you’ll be read your Miranda rights. These refer to your fifth amendment right to remain silent. Don’t offer up information without first consulting your lawyer. You may end up saying something that the prosecution later submits as evidence, such as how long you’ve been out, how many drinks you had, any drugs (prescription or otherwise) you may have also taken, etc.
Get a Lawyer Who Specializes in DUI
To truly know if you have any hope of pleading not guilty to a DUI charge, you need a good lawyer. And not just any lawyer will do; seek out a lawyer from a DUI defense firm such as Romano Law P.C., who say there is a chance to have a DUI charge completely dismissed or to diminish sentences and fines.
The consequences of a DUI charge can include a suspended license, mandatory alcohol counseling, community service, fines and even jail time. You’re more likely to be able to plead not guilty to your first DUI charge rather than repeat offenses.
Although jail time is typically reserved for such repeat offenders, the other consequences of a DUI charge are just as disruptive. To truly avoid this headache, always have a designated driver or call a cab. A DUI or car accident, which are often fatal when a drunk driver is involved, simply isn’t worth it.