It’s the holidays but Teri is not feeling well due to her severe acid reflux but decides to go to the office party anyway since she just joined the firm and wants to appear social and as a team player. She has only two cocktails before her acid reflux acts up, so she says her goodbyes and gets in her car. On her way home, a police cruiser notices her car weaving slightly in her lane and stops her. Teri admits to having two drinks and performs badly on certain field sobriety tests. She consents to a breathalyzer test that shows her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to be 0.08%. She is arrested and charged with DUI.
A DUI, or driving under the influence, is often referred to as an everyman’s crime since anyone from any background or economic status is vulnerable since only a few drinks may place you at risk for being stopped and arrested for DUI. Drinking and driving is also a serious crime even though it is generally charged as a misdemeanor as it can lead to prolonged suspension of your driver’s license, substantial fines, a radical increase in your auto insurance premiums for several years, require attendance at DUI classes, and likely incarceration for a few days to several months for subsequent convictions. A DUI also pertains to being under the influence of marijuana, narcotics, depressants, or any prescribed medication.
Police are on alert to spot drunk drivers in certain areas and at certain times, though they may suspect a motorist of being under the influence due to erratic driving or after a traffic accident. Their suspicions are enhanced if they detect an odor of alcohol on your breath, an open container on your car seat, and after observing your overall demeanor. If you are slurring your words, are unable to follow simple directions, admit to having had a couple of beers, or stumble while exiting your car, you are more likely to be suspected of DUI.
However, police often make errors in stopping and detaining you, in instructing you on performing certain sobriety tests, and in other procedures that can lead to either a dismissal of DUI charges or an offer by the prosecutor for you to plead to a non-alcohol related offense. Consequently, the following suggestions are things you can do to get out of a DUI.
- If asked by an officer after being stopped, do not admit to drinking. Politely decline to answer the question.
- Unless you are under 21 or on probation for a prior DUI or other criminal offense, you are under no obligation to perform any field sobriety tests (FST) or to take a PBT, or preliminary breath test. This is a portable, hand-held device that may detect some level of alcohol in your blood. Its results are not admissible though it can form the basis for probable cause to arrest you for DUI. Again, politely decline to take any tests. Your refusal cannot be used against you as evidence of guilt. But even if you, like Teri in the above example, did submit to an FST, your attorney can usually present credible reasons for an allegedly poor performance that has nothing to do with being under the influence.
- You may be asked to submit to a chemical test of your blood, usually via a breathalyzer. If you refuse testing, your license is subject to suspension for one year for a first-time refusal and you forfeit eligibility for a hardship license. Even if you fail the test by having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08%, there are nearly 50 ways to challenge the test by an experienced criminal lawyer. However, you might consider refusing if you are confident your BAC is well over 0.08% and can endure losing your license to drive for at least one year, and there is little evidence of you being under the influence. In cases where drivers were in an accident that caused serious or fatal injuries, refusing a test may be advisable since they risk felony charges if found to be under the influence.
- Advise your attorney if you may have a medical condition since some can result in a flawed breath or blood test. Persons who suffer from GERD, or severe acid reflux like Teri, can often test higher on breath tests. If you are asthmatic or just used an inhaler that usually contains alcohol, it can also result in false high-test readings. Persons with diabetes have vastly increased amounts of acetones than non-sufferers, which registers as acetyl alcohol on a breathalyzer. Further, individuals with liver or kidney problems may have ammonia build-up that can affect a test reading.
- Your stop and detention may have been illegal. For instance, if you were stopped at a DUI roadblock, you may not be unreasonably detained, and you can decline to have your car searched. You also may decline to answer any questions about drinking though you must produce your license, registration and proof of insurance. If you are not allowed to leave, ask if you are under arrest. If an officer says no, you should be allowed to leave. And as noted above, you may politely decline to perform any road-side sobriety tests without any legal penalties. Roadblocks also must adhere to strict guidelines on how they are set up and operated.
- If police arrest you at your home, hotel room or anywhere else other than at your car based on a tip that you were driving under the influence or were in an accident, do not admit to driving or even drinking. Unless you say otherwise, a prosecutor cannot prove that you were not drinking at home or in your hotel room after driving. Also, if your car was in an accident but no one saw you driving, there is no proof that you were the driver.
- Immediately contact an experienced DUI lawyer if charged with a DUI. You have two procedures following a DUI arrest: (1) your criminal proceeding whereby you face possible incarceration, fines, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock system, and attendance at DUI classes; and (2) your RMV suspension hearing regarding suspension of your driving privileges if your BAC was 0.08% or you refused testing. There are other hearings before the RMV for hardship licenses, license reinstatement, ignition interlock device and removal, and others that your criminal lawyer can handle for you.
Retain an Experienced DUI Lawyer from the Office of Paul Moraski
Do not think that because you were arrested for a DUI that you must plead guilty. Paul Moraski is a highly experienced criminal lawyer who can review your police report, breath or blood test results, and the circumstances of your stop and arrest and outline numerous available defenses tailored to your case. Mr. Moraski has been successful in numerous DUI cases in getting charges dismissed, obtaining not-guilty verdicts at trial, and in negotiating satisfactory dispositions for his clients.
Call DUI lawyer Paul Moraski at (978)397-0011 for the DUI defense you need and get the best possible opportunity for a reasonable resolution of your case.