What Mistakes Do Clients Make Once They Have Been Arrested That Hurt Their Case?
The biggest mistake people make is giving too much information to the police. The best thing to do when being questioned by a police officer would be to respectfully decline to answer their questions. They should not answer any questions about where they were coming from, where they were going, what they had to drink, what they had to eat, when they last slept and how they were feeling.
They could tell the officer that they respectfully decline to answer the question and they had been advised by their attorney that they were not required to answer that question. They should also respectfully refuse to do the field sobriety tests because that would just give the officers more ammunition to feed to the prosecutor to get a conviction.
By respectfully declining to do what they were not required by law to do, the person would not be admitting anything. They would just be saying they had been advised by their attorney that they did not have to blow into that first machine they were given, and that they only had to do a blood or breath test after they had been arrested for DUI.
This way, even if the person might have a little bad driving, or they might have the odor of an alcoholic beverage on their breath, if they had been advised by their lawyer that they did not have to blow into that first machine before they were arrested, then they would not have to walk a line or count their fingers or tilt their head back and estimate thirty seconds and they would not have to stand on one leg. These would not have to perform any of these tests and they would not even have to follow the officer’s finger going back and forth during a horizontal gaze nystagmus test.
Why Do Many People Fail The Field Sobriety Tests?
All of these tests were basically designed for people to fail because the results would be based on the officer’s interpretation and opinion. These are tests that no one would have practiced before; no one would have been given the rules of these tests and no one would know what a pass or a fail was on these tests, and yet the person would be given these tests for the first time ever, usually late at night, when it was cold, on a highway or a road with police lights going and headlights or flashlights in their face and cars whizzing by.
These tests are generally not carried out in a neutral, warm, flat, well lit situation when the person was wide awake. The tests are usually carried out at midnight or 2 o’clock in the morning, which would be a bad situation to have to do these tests in.
How Would It Help If The Person Did Not Perform The Field Sobriety Tests?
I advise people that they are not required to do these tests and that they need to tell the officers that they are respectfully declining to do these things on the advice of their attorney, especially if they suspected or knew they were at or over the limit because it generally would not take much to be over the limit.
If all the officer had against the person was that they maybe went over the line one time, then in that case everyone who drives would go over the line every once in a while. Maybe the person had a headlight out which was why they got pulled over, and the officer smelled alcohol on the person’s breath because they had a drink. If the police decided they wanted to arrest the person, then the DA may or may not file charges when they were looking through the report if the police did not have the evidence they needed.
The person might even have a .08 blood alcohol level when they did the blood test or breath test after being arrested in which case the DA may decide that although they had that number, they did not have anything else so the DA might decide to not charge that person. It would be hard to say what the individual DA would do in any given circumstance.
A lot of people are worried and they tell me that their greatest concern is they would be going back to jail. This is a misconception, because in most DUI cases my client would not be going back to jail. They had already been arrested, and sometimes they would get released or taken to a place to sober up, although most of them would end up spending a number of hours in jail and some would spend many hours in jail. Jail time would not necessarily happen for most DUI cases.
A lot of people are under the misconception that the fines for a DUI would be enormous and they would not be able to pay them. The fines would typically be fairly close to $2,000 and all the counties would allow for payment plans if the person got convicted.
A lot of people think there would be no way to win a DUI case and they would tell me when they called, that they were calling because someone told them to but they were guilty so they just wanted to plead guilty, and they would ask me to tell them why they should not do that. I have handled plenty of cases over the years where I have been able to win the case outright or get charges reduced or save a license or do many different things, including helping to save jobs. People think a lot of things would happen with a DUI, whereas those things do not actually happen.
People also worry they might lose their license for a long period of time whereas for a first DUI, if everything was timed correctly and done properly with an attorney’s advice, then in the worst case scenario they would be able to get their license back after 30 days of no driving and sometimes even less.
For more information on Mistakes And Misconceptions About DUI, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (415) 523-7878 today.