Posted By : Alisha Wood | Date : 02-23-2016
A DUI carries very stiff penalties in California, including possible arrest, jail time and license suspension. Because the consequences of a DUI can be significant, proper defense against DUI charges is often essential to preventing those consequences and moving forward with your life. Fortunately, there are valid defenses against DUI and experienced legal representation can help you use those defenses to your full advantage in your own case. In the meantime, there are a few facts you need to know in the event you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI.
Reasons for Traffic Stops
A police officer is only allowed to pull over your vehicle if there are reasonable grounds that a law is being violated. This means that you can sometimes challenge the reason for the traffic stop as a part of your defense. If the officer cannot prove there was a valid reason for pulling you over, any evidence collected from that stop may be determined to be inadmissible in court.
Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety tests or FSTs are a series of exercises officers may perform to determine whether you are too impaired to operate a vehicle. Unfortunately, these tests are far from the objective evaluations police officers often claim them to be. The problem is that you can fail an FST for many reasons other than drunkenness. For example, you might be less steady on your feet due to nerves, fatigue, the clothing you are wearing, legal medication you are taking, or even your natural physical coordination.
It is important to know that you can refuse to take an FST. By politely declining the test, you remove the possibility that potential results can be used against you.
Breath Tests – Preliminary Alcohol Screening Device (PAS)
A handheld breathalyzer may be used to conduct an initial breath test, which involves blowing twice into the device. The majority of cases processed in court today involve the results of these breath tests. Although the machines used today are advanced over the “balloon” devices of old, they are still subject to proper maintenance and use if they are to yield accurate results.
However, the only time a police officer can legally require you to take a breath test is if you are under 21 or currently on probation for DUI. Otherwise, you can refuse the test.
If you are arrested on suspicion of DUI, under California’s implied consent law, you must submit to a chemical test; typically you are given the option of breath or blood. This implied consent law states that if an officer who has probable cause to believe you have been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs lawfully arrests you, you must take one of the chemical tests. While you may refuse to take the preliminary test when you are initially pulled over, if the officer still believes you have been driving under the influence, you may still be arrested and then required to take the test.
The most important step in any DUI defense is experienced, qualified legal representation. If you have been charged with DUI, contact the Law Offices of Alisha A. Wood at 619-356-2249 for a case evaluation and answers to all your legal questions.