Driving Under the Influence Arrest
Police officers throughout the country are allowed the authority to identify, detain, and arrest people suspected of committing crimes. Among the many offenses for which they patrol the streets and highways, few are as damaging as deadly and drunk driving. Learn how police officers make a DUI arrest and what rights you are entitled to if you are charged with this crime.
The Definition of a Driving Under the Influence Arrest
The drinking and driving laws in America vary from state to state. However, they generally lay out the definitions of and punishments for a first offense DUI as well as subsequent charges and convictions. Regardless of whether you are being accused of a DUI first offense or you have faced DWI charges before, you must first be arrested by a member of law enforcement.
The drunk driving laws in all 50 states define an arrest as an act that permits a police officer to take a person into custody. The person being arrested at that point no longer has the ability to leave the scene or move around freely.
The officer can use restraints like handcuffs or zip ties if needed. Otherwise, the person under arrest may remain unrestrained as long as he or she is cooperating with and presents no danger to law enforcement.
Submission to the police can be either voluntary or involuntary. Regardless, the arrest allows the police to exercise authority over the person suspected of driving under the influence.
After you have been arrested for DWI, you must be Mirandized or read your rights. As part of those Constitutional rights, you are entitled to hire a DWI lawyer to represent you from the very onset of your DUI case. Your DWI lawyer can then ensure that the police utilized one of the approved means for placing you under arrest.
Eyewitness to DUI
Police have the right to arrest you if they actually see you driving under the influence. If they witness you driving erratically, weaving in and out of traffic, frequently driving over the rumble strips on the roadway’s shoulder, or engaging in other alarming driving behaviors, they can pull you over and submit you to a field sobriety test.
If the test proves that you have a high blood alcohol content, or BAC level, you can be placed under arrest and charged with driving while intoxicated. Of course, if the officer sees you drinking an alcoholic beverage or using illegal drugs while driving, he or she can likewise detain and arrest you for driving under the influence of alcohol or illicit substances.
You can also be arrested for either a misdemeanor DUI or a felony DUI if the officer has probable cause to suspect you are driving while inebriated. The probable cause must be based on facts rather than circumstantial evidence. It must also justify the officer detaining and arresting you on suspicion of DUI.
Probable cause can include the police seeing you toss a beer bottle out of the window while you are driving down the highway. It can also include the police officer seeing beer bottles in the backseat of your vehicle while he or she has you pulled over for a traffic offense.
Based on this evidence, the officer can ask that you undergo a sobriety test like a breathalyzer or a walk and turn test. If you fail the test or refuse to take it, you can legally be placed under arrest for suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
If you believe that the police did not have probable cause to detain and arrest you, you should hire a DWI lawyer to take your case. Your attorney can review the reasons for why you were stopped and asked to undergo a field sobriety test.
Legal Traffic Stop
As noted, the police can pull you over and determine if you are drunk or high if you break any of the traffic laws in your city or state. For example, if you run a red light or a stop sign or you fail to yield to oncoming traffic, you can be stopped and not only issued a ticket for the traffic infraction but also face arrest if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In this scenario, your initial detainment had nothing to do with you being drunk or high but rather your neglect to obey the traffic laws. In the course of questioning and issuing you a ticket, however, the officer discovered your inebriated state and legally placed you under arrest.
Feld Sobriety Tests
If you have recently arrested and charged with a DUI, there are a number of scenarios that you have to look forward to. For example, you will soon have to appear in court to answer to the charges that have been filed against you. You will need to hire the services of a qualified DUI lawyer in order to have full legal representation at your trial. This is not an area in which you can afford to skimp or cut corners. Attempting to represent yourself at such an important trial could have seriously negative consequences.
What Are Some of the Most Common Standardized Field Sobriety Tests?
There are a number of forms that the average field sobriety test may take. One of the most common is the one-leg stand test. In this test, the police officer will instruct you to stand perfectly still while raising one foot about six inches off the ground. You will then be told to count aloud, “1001, 1002, 1003,” and so on. The test will usually last for a duration of thirty seconds until you are allowed to put your foot down.
During the time your foot is in the air, you will be told to keep your eyes steadily on it. If you begin to sway, suddenly need your arms to balance, hop on one foot, put your foot down before you are allowed to do so, or simply trip or fall down, this may be taken as evidence of being impaired by the influence of alcohol or drugs. This test is usually considered to be roughly 65 percent accurate in determining whether or not your judgment and movements are negatively affected by high blood alcohol content.
What Does the Walk and Turn Test Consist Of?
Another very common field sobriety test is known by various names, such as the nine-step test, the straight line test, or the walk the line test. During the course of this test, the police officer who administers it will order you to take a series of suspect is nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line. After you take these nine steps, you will then be ordered to turn on one foot and retrace your steps in the opposite direction.
There area number of indicators during this test that the police officer will look for in order to determine if your judgment and motor skills are impaired by the presence of alcohol. These indicators may include the following:
- Taking the wrong amount of steps, or losing track of how many steps you have taken.
- Turning in the wrong manner or taking a turn in the opposite direction.
- Starting or stopping the test before the police officer orders you to begin or desist.
- Walking without touching your heel to your toe.
- Having to use your arms to balance yourself during the test.
- Stepping purposely off the line, or tripping or falling off the line.
What Does the Horizontal Gaze Field Test Consist Of?
You may have heard about a special field test known as the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. This is a test that a police officer may require you to perform in order to judge if you are currently physically affected or impaired by the influence of alcohol. Studies have shown that this test is normally about 77 percent reliable when it comes to determining if the person being tested has a blood alcohol concentration above .10.
The test proceeds in the following manner. The police officer who pulled you over will instruct you to follow with your eyes a certain stimulus, such as a pen light or flashlight, to the left and then to the right. The officer who is conducting the test will take careful notice of the angle at which the pupil of your eye may begin to show signs of nystagmus.
At What Point Can the Presence of Nystagmus Result in You Being Arrested?
A nystagmus is a sort of twitch or tic that involves an involuntary jerking motion of the eye when it receives a certain stimulus, such as unexpected light from the police officer’s flashlight. If your eye should begin twitching involuntarily in this manner at or before it moves in a complete 45 degree angle, the police officer will generally note this down as proof of the presence of a nystagmus. This may be counted as proof that you are currently suffering from a high blood alcohol concentration and were thus impaired while you were operating your vehicle. At this point, you may well be arrested.
Can You Refuse to Take a Field Sobriety Test?
After absorbing all of the above listing information, you may well be wondering if you can refuse to take a field sobriety test. In some states, the answer is yes, but there will be penalties associated with your refusal. For example, a prosecutor will gladly seize upon the chance to inform the judge and jury at your trial of your refusal to take the test. They will welcome the opportunuty to make the implication that you must have had something to hide. While this may not constitute evidence of your guilt in and of itself, it may have the effect of prejudicing the judge and jury against you.
Some States Do Not Allow You to Refuse a Field Sobriety Test
You should note that some states will not allow you under any circumstances to refuse to take a field sobriety test. In these states, when you apply for your driver’s license, you also signify your willingness to submit to a field sobriety test under an “implied consent” clause. This means that a police officer can arrest you and then authorize the forcible removal of blood from your system in order to conduct a blood alcohol test. It also means that if you refuse to take the test, you will face severe penalties, such as the suspension of your license for a long period of time, or even losing it altogether.
You Will Need to Hire a Qualified DUI Lawyer for Your Defense
By now it should be clear that the answer to the question, “Can you refuse to take a field sobriety test?” is, for all intents and purposes, no. If you refuse to do so, you can be arrested and have your refusal seen by a court of law as tacit admission of your guilt. At the very least, your refusal can lead to having your driver’s license revoked for a specified amount of time. You may also be subject to heavy fines. Your best bet is to submit to a field sobriety test when ordered to do so, as it is better to let your lawyer check the results afterward for any evidence of error or purposeful misconduct.
Can You Contest the Results of a Field Sobriety Test?
There are certain circumstances under which you may be able to contest the results of your field sobriety test. A DUI lawyer will routinely examine the results of the test, as well as the records pertaining to your arrest. Should your lawyer be able to to spot any possible irregularities in either the test itself or the conduct of the officer who made the arrest, they may be able to get the charges significantly reduced or thrown out.
You Can Arrange for a Free Consultation With a DUI Lawyer Today
It’s an excellent idea to contact a professional DUI lawyer for a free consultation. By doing so, you can arrange to sit down with a legal expert who can help you organize your defense against these extremely serious charges. The sooner you do so, the sooner you will be able to put your best foot forward in court in order to answer to these charges and defeat them.
Finally, a police officer can place you under arrest if he or she has a warrant to do so. A judge or magistrate must issue the warrant before you can be placed under arrest.
Before the actual warrant can be put out for you, however, the police officer involved in or assigned to your case must first provide the judge or magistrate a sworn statement to set the basis for your arrest. Additionally, the warrant must include key details about you or the offense including:
- the specific crime that you committed
- your name
- the address of where you live or can be found
- written permission for law enforcement to place you under arrest
The officer must also show you the warrant if you ask to see it. If you are arrested without a warrant being issued for you, you could ask the court to drop the charges against you.
Challenging a Charge of Driving Under the Influence
You should remember that you have Constitutional rights guaranteed to you if you are arrested for and charged with a DWI. While you may know the basic Miranda rights, you may not be aware of other rights to which you are entitled, such as the right to avoid incriminating yourself or going through questioning without a lawyer present.
From the time that you are arrested, it is important to hire an attorney who can help you build a strong and indisputable DUI defense to take to court. You could face any number of drunk driving penalties that can range from paying a steep DUI fine to actually serving time in prison. If this is not your first DUI conviction, you could also be sentenced to a lengthy DUI license suspension that could make it difficult or impossible for you to drive to work, school, or anywhere else you need to go.
Because of the negative impact this conviction can have on your life and that of your immediate family, it is vital that you retain a good lawyer who can review the facts of your case and make sure that you are legally detained and arrested. Your attorney may find that the arresting officer did not have probable cause to pull you over, for example, or that you did not break any laws that merited a traffic stop.
Based on the facts that your lawyer uncovers while representing you, you could have the charges against you lowered or dropped entirely. Even if the charges are upheld, you could take a plea bargain or avoid the worst penalties when you have a skilled DWI attorney arguing your case.
Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol remains a serious offense in all 50 states. Even so, you are guaranteed Constitutional rights if you are stopped and arrested for this crime.
Police have to use one of the applicable reasons for stopping you in the first place and placing you under arrest for DWI. If you believe that you have been wrongly charged or that your rights have been violated, you can hire an attorney to represent you. Your lawyer can ensure that you are not subjected to false imprisonment or wrongful search and seizure of your car and property.
Arrested For DUI
All 50 states have drinking and driving laws on the books that make inebriated driving, sometimes called driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, illegal. The police can arrest you if they see you actually drinking alcohol or using drugs while you are driving your car.
They can likewise pull you over and ask you to go through field sobriety testing if they see you driving in a manner consistent with being drunk or high while operating a vehicle. They may even serve an arrest warrant on you at home or work if another officer has provided a sworn statement to a judge or magistrate that he or she witnessed you driving in an intoxicated state.
Once you are arrested, however, you may ask yourself what happens next and what is DUI charges worst impact on your life. You can prepare yourself and face any DUI charges against you by learning what happens after you are placed under arrest for this crime.
Booking and Processing
You start incurring DUI penalties when you are arrested and taken to the police station for booking and processing. The first set of DUI consequences that are placed upon you involves being fingerprinted, searched, and photographed, information that will be kept on your criminal record and possibly released to the public. The booking officer will also take note of your full legal name, address, and physical description to keep in your record alongside the details of your DUI offense.
After you have been booked and processed, you will be taken to a holding cell or a jail cell depending on the type of facility to which you have been taken. Your personal belongings like your purse, wallet, and cell phone will be taken from you briefly. They will be returned to you after you are released.
During the time that you are being held in a cell, you will have time to contemplate how to beat DUI charges as well as how to secure your release from jail. The manner in which you get out of jail depends on whether this is your first offense DUI or if you have another DUI conviction on your record. This detail along with other factors will influence how often are DUI charges reduced for cases like yours as well as whether you are offered bail, bond, or release on your own recognizance.
One of the options that you might be offered to get out of jail involves paying bail. Bail is essentially paying a determined sum of money to secure your release. In addition to paying money, you also must agree to in writing to go to court and be present for all of the proceedings in your case like the:
- preliminary hearing
- pre-trial motions
You may be allowed to pay the bail amount to secure your release from jail at the police station. If not, you might be able to pay bail at your arraignment, which typically takes place a day or two after you are arrested for DUI.
The amount you must pay may be based on the type of offense, through a bail schedule established by the city, county, or state government, or by the judge assigned to your case. The judge might consider factors like:
- your DUI record
- your criminal history
- the seriousness of the DUI in terms of injury or harm to others
- your ties to the community, family, and employment
to determine how much you must pay for bail.
You also might be offered a bond to secure your release from jail. A bond is a written guarantee that you will show up to all of the court proceedings related to your case. The guarantee also ensures that the bail amount will be paid in full if you do not show up to court or if you flee prosecution for your DUI charge.
The amount of your bond may be paid by a bail bond agency. The agency will charge you a fee of approximately 10 percent of the bail amount. It also may require that you or your family put up some sort of collateral like a car, house, or other assets that can be sold if you abscond or jump bail.
The likelihood of you being offered either bail or bond depends on factors like how much above the legal blood alcohol level you were at the time of your arrest or if you have satisfied the terms of drunk driving penalties for prior convictions.
Finally, if you have a good DUI attorney helping you with your case, you may be released on your own recognizance. Own recognizance requires that you provide the judge a written promise that you will appear in court for all of your proceedings like your arraignment, hearing, pre-trial motions, and trial.
You may have to promise to stay in the area and not leave town or the county without securing permission from the court. The judge likewise might require that you check in with the court regularly until your trial date.
If you fail to show up to court proceedings or if you flee the area, you are subject to immediate arrest. Further, you will not be eligible for bail and instead will be held in a jail cell until your trial.
You are entitled to Constitutional rights that you can use from the time that you are arrested until your case is finished. One of the foremost rights about which you must be informed is your right to hire an DUI attorney.
Why should you retain a drunk driving lawyer, however? Can you not just take a plea deal or serve whatever time in jail is handed down to you by the judge?
You do have the right to defend yourself or appear without counsel. However, a DUI attorney can ensure that your rights are protected every step of the way during the court proceedings. Your lawyer can answer questions like how can DUI charges be dropped against you. He or she could discover how to reduce DUI charges by looking for evidence in your arrest record, for example.
If your lawyer finds discrepancies in the arrest, questioning, booking, or other proceedings, he or she can explain how often are DUI charges dropped using this information. The steps for how to get DUI charges reduced through this legal maneuvering can be delicate and complex, which is why you need an attorney who practices DUI law. The likelihood of how often do DUI charges get dropped through such means could work in your favor if you are innocent or wrongfully charged with driving while intoxicated.
If all of the facts of your case check out and are perfectly legal in terms of your arrest, booking, and processing, you still can avoid jail time or harsh sentences by hiring a lawyer to assist you. Your legal counsel will ensure that your rights are protected and that you have your day in court to explain your side of the story.
You and your lawyer can gather evidence to show that you do not deserve the harshest penalties and should not serve time in jail. If this is your first DUI charge, you might be able to pay a fine, do community service, and attend outpatient rehabilitation therapy or AA meetings to pay back your debt to society.
Your attorney might assist with other matters related to your DWI charges. He or she may be able to secure your job, home, and family while you reform your life. Until then, you should learn what to expect as your DUI arrest is processed through the courts. You also should prepare yourself for one of the three options for securing your release from jail.