Your Rights During a DUI Stop

Many people don’t know their rights during a DUI enforcement stop, so an article on the subject is appropriate.  What you do, what you say and how you act during a DUI stop can mean the difference between going home, or going to jail.

You have the right to travel on public roadways

Police, Highway Patrol Officers or Sheriffs must have reasonable suspicion that a criminal act is being committed before they stop a driver.   This requirement can be met with the simplest of violations, including minor violations of the Vehicle Code.  A broken tail light, missing mirrors or expired registration tags are all grounds for a police officer to have “reasonable suspicion” that a criminal act is occurring, thus allowing them to stop a driver.   More serious violations, such as speeding, lane straddling, swerving or turning from the wrong lane can also give the police reasonable suspicion to stop the driver.

Even if a violation occurs however, certain violations have to occur over an “extended” period of time for the officer to stop the driver.  The case of US v. Colin illistrates that even if a violation occurs, the justification that police may have can be limited or even overcome if their conduct violates the driver’s expectation of privacy.

You have the right to remain silent

Many drivers don’t understand they do  not have to talk to police if they don’t want to.  You are required to identify yourself, and give a police officer your driver’s license/registration/and insurance information.  Other than that, you do not have to answer any questions an officer asks you.  It is NOT a good idea to be rude or belligerent with an officer while you’re stopped, but it is also not a good idea to admit to drinking alcohol before driving the car.

Chemical Tests: What you can and cannot do.

You do not have to perform any of the “Field Sobriety Tests” or the PAS (Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test) but you do have to submit to an evidential breath or blood test if you are arrested for DUI.  The evidential breath test is almost always at the police station or jail facility and you must submit a sample or you face a 1 year license suspension.

Posted in DMV Defenses, DUI Defenses.

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