Stopped for a DUI. What Should I Do?

Since this is the very first post for Ibanez Criminal Defense, I’ll start with the single most popular question I get about one of the most common charges here in Southern California.

What do I do if I’m pulled over for a California DUI?

First off, it is unlikely that the officer stopped you because he believed you were driving drunk. Aside from maybe observing some bad driving, there’s nothing to suggest that you’re driving under the influence.

Officers get the information they need to arrest a person for drunk driving after they’ve pulled someone over for some other reason, like a traffic violation. So here are some tips to protect your rights and limit the information the officers get:

  • Remain silent. The 5th Amendment exists for a reason. Tell the officer that you’re choosing to remain silent and “respectfully declining to answer any questions.” Then tell the officer you want to talk to your lawyer and keep your mouth shut.
  • Refuse the field sobriety tests. These tests are, in fact, optional. Don’t do them because they are designed for failure. Even if you think you’ll pass, the officer will likely interpret your performance as a failure.
  • Refuse the pre-arrest breathalyzer. The pre-arrest, roadside breathalyzer is considered a field sobriety test and it too is optional. It is important to note that the law requires that you submit to either a breath or a blood test, but only after you are arrested.
  • Contact a lawyer ASAP. After a DUI arrest, a person only has 10 days to schedule a DMV hearing to try and save their license. If nothing is done, a person’s license will be suspended for four months. Also, fighting criminal charges begins before the charges are even filed.

Of course this is only scratching the surface. If you have any questions that require more detail that what I’ve said above, shoot me a message at our Contact Page.


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