What Protocol Do Police Follow When There Is An Accident Involving A DUI?
When there is an accident involving a DUI, the first thing the police are trained to do is ensure that people are okay and determine whether or not medical assistance is needed. Then they find out if the driver or drivers involved are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. To do that, they will get close to the people who are still in their cars and try to get their heads to an open window. If they smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage, then they will start asking questions and initiate a DUI investigation. The main thing that they’re trained to look for is alcohol or drugs, and drugs are very difficult to detect.
There is a whole drug recognition evaluation that is done, which is usually done later at the station in a different environment. If they smell alcohol, then it turns into an investigation at that time. Typically, they don’t arrest someone right away. Instead, they will arrest someone if there is some other type of crime going on or if there is some type of violence, an assault or weapons involved. They might put someone in cuffs and then do a DUI investigation, but typically they don’t cuff and arrest someone until they’ve gathered as much evidence as they can.
They are looking for the signs and symptoms of intoxication. So, they are doing balancing tests and tests to check someone’s fine motor skills. They’re having people count fingers, write alphabets, stand on one leg, walk a line and follow a stimulus with their eyes while keeping their heads still. They are also asking a lot of questions and trying to determine whether or not someone should be arrested for DUI. In addition, they are trying to get as much information as they can in order to help the prosecution get a conviction down the road. Once they tell someone that they’re under arrest for DUI, they’re not going to get any more information, so they need to get the information early on.
The best thing that you can do in that situation is tell the officer that your attorney has advised you to respectfully decline to answer any questions. You only need to give the officer your contact information, name, date of birth and license. If you are arrested for a DUI later on, then you are required by the state of California (if you’re driving in California) to submit to a blood or breath test once arrested. So, you do have to comply with that. If you do not do that, then they would typically get a warrant to perform a forced blood draw. If they count that as a refusal to do a test, then you’re looking at losing your license for a year or more. That’s without any restrictions. So, there is a lot going on with what the officers are trying to accomplish.
Does The Driver Even Have The Option Of Refusal Of A Breath Test Under These Circumstances?
The driver absolutely has the option to refuse a breath test. Anyone can refuse the preliminary alcohol screening test unless they are on probation for DUI. One of the conditions of probation is that you submit to a chemical test if you are suspected of DUI by an officer. Now, someone does not have to do the chemical test after arrest in these situations. They don’t have to do any of the testing, but they are supposed to be admonished as to what the consequences are, and typically it’s a year or more of no driving. Officers can also get warrants from judges to do forced blood draws.
If you don’t comply with the test, then you’re potentially going to receive a much greater penalty with regard to your driver’s license, and they will still take your blood. So, they’re still going to have a number. In most cases, it’s probably better not to refuse, unless you don’t drive or can afford to not have your license. I had a case recently where the person refused to take the test and the officer did not even get a warrant to do a forced blood draw. This is very rare, but it can happen.
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