BY: FREDDY WOODS, ATTORNEY AT LAW
Many people think that there are certain things to do or say that can help you at the moment that you are being arrested for a DUI, in actuality, what you don’t do or say is more often more important to your case.
- Do not make any statements or admissions to the officers, investigators or anybody else affiliated with your prosecution.
- Do not start talking to the police officer in a casual way about why you were out that day or night or what you were doing, nothing is off the record. In fact, the officer will tell you when he or she is reading your rights that “everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law” so make sure you don’t say anything, even in the squad car.
- Do not mistake kindness for lack of prosecution. The officer may be kind to you during the arrest, but during the court hearing they will seek to prosecute you for the crime of DUI, that’s their job.
- Do not panic and “freak out” during the arrest. The arrest are often recorded on video and if you are standing in front of the officer’s car during the arrest, he or she is most likely recording everything you do. Remain calm and don’t do anything spontaneous or crazy.
- Do not try to be your own counsel or tell the officer what the law is during the stop. There is a saying that goes” he who represents himself has a fool for a client.” It may or may not apply to you or your loved one who has been arrested but it is definitely better to have help than to try to navigate the legal system alone. The officer may listen to your legal knowledge on the side of the road but he or she is doing so to undermine your case and make themselves appear as the professional ones. The court system does not work like the “Law and Order” TV Show in real life. The real court system can be confusing and messy to a first timer or novice, so don’t make mistakes where you suffer if you are wrong. Get legal help, get a lawyer to watch your back and champion your case at court.
- Do not submit to the field sobriety tests, you may respectfully decline to take the tests. Why? The field sobriety tests are three standardized field tests that the officer uses to determine if you are drunk, according to their own opinion. The field sobriety tests are NOT something that you can “PASS” and be on your way. The officer is hoping to see you fail miserably on camera to justify his or her decision to arrest you. If you are going to be arrested in that moment, you will be arrested. Stay calm and respectful but don’t submit to any tests.
- Do not submit to the breathalyzer test on the side of the road or at the jail. In this state, the officer is required to have an “observation period” which is generally a 20-minute waiting period where they sit you in a room, with a camera rolling above you to wait before you take the official breath test. Why? The officer can observe you on film and use this evidence against you during the negotiations and during the trial of your case to see how you look on camera. This video is a powerful tool that helps them secure more convictions. If you are quiet and sit still with your head down, there is no evidence to say that you were doing anything other than waiting for this video period to be over, hence the prosecution has less evidence against you to work with.
- Don’t forget to listen to the Miranda rights if they are read to you. The first right is “you have the right to remain silent.” THIS IS A RIGHT, meaning that you are not offending anyone by remaining silent, you have that right under the law so use it to be quiet and not give the officer and/or the prosecutor anything to use against you at court.
- Do not tell anyone at the jail about your day or night. Inside the holding area where people are kept before they go to their bond hearing, there is a tendency for other people to talk to you and ask you questions. Please remember that you are in the jail so that you can leave and never come back, you are not there to make jail house friends, the cell is not your home.
- Do not beat yourself up with guilt. There are courthouses in every county in every state, some are beautiful and large buildings. This means that you are not the only one that has been accused of a crime, millions of people are accused of crimes every year. Give yourself a break and don’t add to your own stress with self-pity. Get out of jail, go home and get some sleep because you have it had it rough for the past day, wake up and call us to help you, we will take it from here so you can rest easier.
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