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How to Protect Yourself in a Drunk Driving Investigation

Know Your Rights


Protect Yourself in a Drunk Driving Investigation

Whether you are innocent or guilty, it is normal to be stressed during a DUI/DWI traffic stop. People are often afraid it will look bad if they don’t cooperate, so they tell police far more than they should. The truth is you don’t have to say a word. It is your constitutional right to stay silent, even if your Miranda rights are not read, which usually won’t happen until an officer intends to make an arrest. Before that time, the officer will do anything he can to get you to incriminate yourself. But without the evidence you give him, an officer will have no probable cause for arrest. Always stay calm and polite. Respectfully, tell the officer your name and address. Then, say “I will not give anymore information until my attorney is present.” This is just one of many ways to protect yourself in a drunk driving investigation. 

It is also your right to say “no” to a field sobriety test or portable breath test. Again, these are measures the officer will use to gain probable cause that you are drinking and driving. By asking for your consent, they are admitting they don’t have enough evidence for a conviction. Don’t give them what they want. Instead, know and exercise your constitutional rights. The worst that will happen if you refuse a portable breath test is a small fine. In most cases, the fact that you refused a field sobriety test cannot be used against you in court. If the officer does arrest you or ask you to take a breathalyzer test or blood alcohol test, you can still refuse. The consequence will usually be a driver’s license suspension. However, if you are not convicted of a DUI, the suspension can often be reversed.

Police Will Intentionally Lie

Police officers have a close relationship with prosecutors and are well-trained in interrogation techniques. They may appear friendly or docile in an effort to get your guard down so you admit your own guilt and build their case for them. They might tell you that you won’t serve time if you simply confess. This is a blatant lie. A judge is the only one who determines sentencing. While it is perfectly legal for a cop to lie, it can be devastating to your case if you lie to an officer. Don’t talk to the police! Instead, wait until an experienced defense attorney can coach you on how to proceed.

Police Will Make Mistakes

Most states require an arresting officer to observe a driver for 15 minutes before giving a breath test. However, this step if often skipped. Many officers even lack probable cause for the traffic stop. Or, they will cut corners during field sobriety tests or ask questions that violate a citizen’s rights. If you avoid self-incrimination, a skilled attorney can use police error to have evidence excluded from trial or possibly obtain a dismissal.

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

If you are charged with a DUI/DWI, it is crucial to remain calm. Find an attorney with experience in DUI/DWI cases. A skilled, aggressive attorney can meet with prosecutors and convince them to drop the charges or have evidence disqualified from trial. The police do not want you to know your rights. But it is an attorney’s job is to empower their clients and help them achieve the most positive legal outcome.

If you or a loved one has been charged with drunk driving in the Boston area, I invite you to contact me for a case consultation. I can be reached directly at 617-263-6800. I provide criminal defense representation to residents of Lawrence, Lowell, Haverhill, Concord, Ayer, Newburyport, and all throughout Massachusetts.

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