While every state may have special nuances governing their DUI laws, following are general answers to some of the most commonly asked questions. Rather than taking this information as concrete to the State in which you reside, it is suggested that you get local counsel to answer questions specific to your personal situation.
- If a police officer asks me if I’ve been drinking, how should I answer? An individual is not required to answer any questions that might incriminate them and they are allowed to speak to an attorney before answering any questions. If you do state that you have been drinking you may be placing yourself in a position that might not be most beneficial.
- What patterns of behavior are police officers trained to look for when they first pull a suspect over? They are varied but typically include the obvious such as: flushed face; glassy or otherwise altered eyes; alcohol on the breath; incoherent speech; inability to comprehend questions; instability when exiting the vehicle, standing, or walking; inappropriate attitude (including aggression); no knowledge of current time or location; and inability to comprehend or follow verbal instructions.
- What if I refuse to take the chemical test? Typically if an individual refuses to take one of the chemical tests the suspect will receive a 1-year suspension of their license, there might be a mandatory jail sentence, and the court and jury may view the refusal as a declaration of guilt. You can refuse to take the test, but you should be aware of the increased penalties by doing so.
- If the officer fails to issue my Miranda warning will my case be dismissed? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Police officers are required to advise you of your rights but it does not have to take place until after an arrest has been made.
- What offenses can I be charged with? Traditional charges fall under the following acronyms: DUI (driving under the influence), OWI (operating while intoxicated), and DWI (driving while intoxicated). Also, 48 states have adopted a second charge known as the “per se” offense which is defined as driving with an excessive blood alcohol content (BAC). While defendants are typically charged with two offenses, penalties will be handed out for only one of them. Also, should the suspect refuse to take a chemical test only the first offense will be charged due to lack of “per se” evidence.
- Usually one thinks of alcohol when it comes to impaired driving, but what about drugs? The terms are pretty much parallel since the law is generally understood as being unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.
As already mentioned each State has specific laws and governances that apply to impaired driving. The above was provided as a general overview to research and ask these same specific questions in your State so you can best be prepared should the situation present itself. Arm yourself with knowledge; it’s your best defense.