As a San Diego DUI Lawyer I often am confronted with the following scenario. Michael leaves his company’s holiday party at a restaurant in North County. While driving home on highway 101 he is startled by flashing red and blue lights in his rear-view. A sudden rush of adrenaline and panic; “Why is this cop following me”; “I was driving fine”; “How Much did I Drink?”; “What should I say to the officer.”
The scenario usually plays out with Michael admitting to the officer that he has had a few drinks that evening. Next comes the FST’s or Field Sobriety Tests. Walk the line, heel-toe and turn, hands to the side and head up count to 30 seconds. All common FST’s that law enforcement will administer. The deciding moment in any DUI stop is the officers request to do a PAS breath test. The officer tells Michael that he can blow into a hand held Breathalyzer to determine his Blood Alcohol Level. This is the point where Michael’s lack of knowledge about the law can send him on the wrong path.
Michael is an experienced driver in his 30′s, never having been convicted of a DUI. The PAS test is a standard request for any DUI stop. For him the PAS test is entirely voluntary; but instead of refusing Michael asks, “Do I have to do the test.” The most common response from the officer, its voluntary, and he leaves it at that. Unless you are under 21 years old or on probation for a previous DUI, you have every right to refuse this side-of the road breath test. At this point it is up to the officer to decide if based on everything he has observed to that point whether you were driving your car under the influence of alcohol.
Refusing to take a test offered by an officer is not easy to do, the pressure to comply with a peace officer is immense. Knowing your rights and affirming them however does not make you guilty of any crime.
Despite what many think you do not have the right to a San Diego Criminal Lawyer immediately after you are arrested for a suspected DUI. As a California driver your privilege to drive on the roads means you have given up certain rights. Holding a license and driving you give law enforcement the implied consent that you will submit to a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol level. While you can refuse to do any tests requested in the field, once you are taken into custody you will be required to give a breath or blood sample to the arresting officer. Refusing to provide this test will trigger an automatic license suspension by the DMV. Law enforcement can and will take a blood sample by force if you have been arrested; although unconscionable to many the California and Supreme Court have both upheld this practice as constitutional.
The range of legal implications for a DUI are immense but too often defendants find themselves submitting to the will of law enforcement without any understanding of what their rights are. In the time between early Thanksgiving and Christmas not only are there more occasions for social drinking, but also a significant increase in police enforcement of DUI offenses. Increase patrols for both local San Diego police and California Highway Patrol make the likelihood of a traffic stop all the more common during the holiday season.
Law enforcement is trained to look for drivers who have been drinking with every traffic stop they make. As a DUI lawyer I help my clients deal with the consequences of one of the worst nights of their life. Knowing your rights in a DUI scenario is the best defense to a criminal case that can have lasting implications. If you would like to know more about DUI laws in California or how such cases are handled a San Diego DUI is handled contact Criminal lawyer George Gedulin at his North County office in Del Mar and Carmel Valley.
Attorney at Law