The best way to stay out of trouble with the law is to refrain from drinking and driving. Have a number handy to a cab company, uber, a friend or bring a designated driver along with you. However, there are times, after only a drink or two, you are completely fine to drive. If you are pulled over, remember you have rights and the most important one being the right to remain silent. Don’t answer leading questions by law enforcement, don’t take any tests, and be polite. If you forget your rights and are arrested for a DUI, call an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.
Keep in mind, that law enforcement is not flawless. In my many years of working as a criminal defense attorney in Ohio, there have been plenty of cases where officers have cut corners, made quick decisions, violated a person’s rights and committed oversight. All of which are powerful in a defense to avoid a DUI conviction. These mistakes, if found, will either completely get a case dismissed or charges reduced.
You do not need to be pulled over by a police officer specifically on suspicion of driving under the influence in order for you to be arrested for a DUI. As long as the officer has reasonable suspicion that you were committing any traffic violation–from a broken tail light to causing an accident–the traffic stop itself will be legal. However, if the police officer lacked justification for the traffic stop, any evidence collected after the illegal stop may possibly be suppressed on a motion from your attorney. Since a DUI conviction rests mainly on evidence collected your entire case may be dismissed.
There are strict rules and guidelines that must be followed by law enforcement during all stops.
- You can not be stopped the basis of an anonymous call. An officer can not rely on a phone call to stop you, if he does not have a name and address for the caller.
- You can not be followed into your home without an invitation or without enough information to justify the entry. Your home is protected under the fourth amendment.
- You can not be detained longer than is reasonable to investigate. The constitution does not allow officers to hold you without limit.
- You can not be stopped just because the officer thinks you are suspicious.
- You can not be stopped just to check the driver’s license and registration. There must be an actual traffic violation or a suspicion of a crime.
- You can’t be stopped for no reason at all. It happens all the time.
- You can not be blocked from exiting your car. Officers may not restrict a driver’s freedom to leave without a reason.
- Any tests administered must follow the proper requirements.
You Do Not Have to Consent to a Search. Police will often ask if they can search the vehicle. But without a warrant or probable cause, you do not have to consent to that search. Law enforcement officers generally need a warrant or probable cause, unless you give them your consent. They don’t let you know that you have the right to say “no.” However, it is your right and you can politely tell them they can not search.
You Can Decline to Answer Police Questions. Remain silent. The most common questions “Do you know why I pulled you over today?” “Where are you headed?” or “You have anything illegal in the car?” do not need to be answered.
The Bottom Line: In every DUI case, it is critical to examine the reason for the initial stop. The police are required to have “reasonable, articulable suspicion” that you have committed a traffic stop or committed some other crime in order to pull you over. If they think you committed a traffic violation – but were wrong on the law – the stop could be thrown out. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call me, I can help. 513-260-2099