Being pulled over for driving while intoxicated can be a scary event, especially if you are being wrongfully accused of this serious infraction. Unfortunately, not everyone recognizes the various laws associated with these stops or their rights, so it becomes easy for law enforcement to make up certain facts in order to help their own case against you.
It’s important for you to recognize a few different things during a DUI stop. The officer will ask you a number of questions, claim that they have specific evidence against you for the stop, and that you are displaying signs of being intoxicated. However, these are not always truths and the officer who pulls you over may try to lie in order to help see to it you are charged.
You have rights and knowing what lies the police may tell you is important. This is especially true in circumstances when there is so much on the line. Here are some things to be wary of when being pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
You Must Take the Field Sobriety and Breathalyzer Tests
Law enforcement officers are quick to try and find any bit of evidence they can use against you, so they have no problem aggressively stating that you must participate in the breathalyzer and/or field sobriety tests in an effort to prove your innocence.
The fact of the matter is, these tests are not always accurate. In many cases, they’re downright one-sided to provide the officer with the evidence they need to charge you with a crime. Even more so, they’re designed in a manner that even some of the soberest individuals can fail, especially the field sobriety tests.
These tests are often failed for various reasons, such as a disability that impacts balance, wind factor, and more. With regard to the breathalyzer test, if the machine is not accurately calibrated, it can set off a false reading, making someone guilty of a DUI even when their actual blood alcohol concentration level is below the legal limit.
You do not have to participate in these tests. You can refuse to do them, but there are some situations where the prosecutor will try to use your denial as a conscious admission of guilt, stating that you refused to do the tests because you knew you’d fail them. Having a lawyer can help you in these matters.
You Can Be Stopped & Arrested for Any Reason the Officer Sees Fit
Despite what officers may try to say, there must be probable cause for them to perform any kind of DUI stop and arrest on you. They cannot pull you over without a valid reason to do so.
There are some situations in which law enforcement will conduct a “seatbelt safety checkpoint” to disguise a potential DUI stop. In the state of Michigan, however, these types of checkpoints in which the officer checks for intoxication have been ruled unconstitutional and you may be able to use this as part of your defense.
In most situations, it is imperative for the officer to observe specific behavior to warrant the stop such as:
- Swerving between lanes
- Slowing down and speeding up
- Driving without headlights
- Illegal or sudden driving maneuvers
- Erratic movements or braking
- Slow reaction time to traffic signals
- Expired registration
When a driver is abiding by the laws, yet the officer pulls them over, this is something that can be used as a defense to the charge. Your attorney can work to show that there was no probable cause to pull you over and that anything within the stop should be dismissed and cannot be used against you.
The Officer Has the Right to Search Your Car Under Any Circumstance
There are only certain situations in which your vehicle should be subject to a search, and there must be reasonable suspicion for the officer to do so. For instance, if there is something in plain view that the officer notices—such as an empty alcohol bottle—this would give the officer reason to confiscate it as evidence and search the vehicle.
However, in other situations, the officer may not search your vehicle without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. As a scenario, if you are stopped for a broken headlight, you are not slurring your speech or displaying any signs of intoxication, there’s nothing in clear view, and you are following reasonable orders, it would be hard for the officer to prove a justifiable reason to search your vehicle.
Many drivers don’t recognize their rights when this situation occurs. They’re quick to give consent, even if it is not necessary. If you want the situation to remain calm, you can say nothing or ask to speak with your lawyer before answering any questions or consenting to have your vehicle searched. This is the most effective way to protect your rights.
An Oakland County DUI Defense Attorney On Your Side
If you’ve been wrongfully accused of a DUI or if your rights were violated during a DUI stop, know that you can get the defense you need to avoid serious charges and penalties. As an experienced Oakland County DUI defense lawyer, I have the extensive experience you need to build a strong defense on your behalf.
With Daniel D. Hajji, Attorney at Law, you can feel peace of mind knowing that I’m working to prove your innocence. I have helped handle thousands of cases and have achieved tremendous success on my clients’ behalves. Allow me to work in your corner and guide you throughout the entire process.
Call my firm today at (248) 599-0054 and discuss your legal rights with me in a strategy session.