Have you ever been pulled over by the police? You probably have: the US Bureau of Justice Statistics says that traffic stops are the most common reason for police encounters. If you’re ever stopped on suspicion of (or you’re facing charges for) DUI, it’s important that you’re aware of your rights. While knowing your responsibilities is crucial, knowing your rights will help you get through the encounter without sacrificing your freedom.
Your Rights During a DUI Traffic Stop
Just as you do, police officers have certain responsibilities during DUI stops. They are required to respect your rights as listed below. If they don’t, visit www.lawjrc.com today.
- The right to remain silent: According to the Fifth Amendment, you cannot be forced to incriminate yourself in an offense. Simply put, you don’t have to answer any questions beyond an officer’s request for your license, registration, and insurance information. It’s perfectly okay to refuse to answer leading questions or to invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
- Refusing a request to search: As stated in the Fourth Amendment, you’re protected from unlawful search and seizure. If an officer asks to search your car, you’re not required to consent. Similarly, you’re allowed to decline a personal search after exiting your vehicle. Officers are looking for evidence of intoxication, and it’s wise to exercise your constitutional rights without physical resistance.
There are limited exceptions to the protections provided under the Fourth Amendment. Officers can, after asking you to step out of your vehicle, pat you down to search for guns, knives, and other weapons. If they see something illegal, such as an open container of alcohol, in plain sight, they can search the vehicle without consent.
Officers may also search you and your vehicle if they have probable cause to charge you with DUI. For instance, they may search for drugs after detecting the smell of cannabis. Finally, officers can always perform searches if they’re backed by warrants.
- Refusing chemical or physical tests: You have the legal right to refuse chemical and physical tests, such as field sobriety tests, Breathalyzer tests, and polygraph tests. The state cannot penalize you for refusing to perform a field sobriety or lie detector test, but refusing a breath test does come with some penalties. Under the state’s implied consent rule, you can lose your license for up to a year.
- The right to legal representation: If you have been charged with DUI, you have what’s known as “Miranda rights”. The arresting officer must inform you of these rights after you’re in custody and before you’re questioned. You’ll have the right to maintain silence, the right to know that whatever you say will be used against you, the right to legal counsel, and the right to have that counsel provided if you can’t afford it.
If you’re arrested for driving under the influence after you’re stopped by the police, the best thing to do is to stay quiet and ask for an attorney. Police are required to stop the interrogation and allow you to seek legal advice.
Consult a Lawyer With Questions and Concerns
Though we hope it never happens to you, we also hope you remember these rights if you’re ever stopped for or charged with DUI. If you’re facing charges for driving under the influence, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Defense attorneys will protect your rights and provide advice and advocacy at every stage in the process.
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