The sirens light up the night sky. You do as you are supposed to and pull over. You show your driver license and your insurance and you think all is good. But then something happens. Maybe you admit to having a drink earlier in the day. Maybe the officer suspects your bloodshot eyes are the result of being high. It is important to know that when an officer starts to conduct a DUI / DWI investigation after a simple traffic stop you know your rights. Here is a summary of what those rights are.
You have the right to remain silent.
The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution gives you the right to not be:
compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against [yourself].
You do not have to and should not talk to the police. If they ask if you have had a drink tonight, politely state you wish to exercise your Fifth Amendment right. Do not fall into their trap where they state they only want to help you, and always be polite so the situation doesn't get out of hand. When the officer comes to your vehicle, keep your hands visible and provide your driver's license, insurance, and registration when asked. The latter is the only information you should provide.
You have the right to refuse field sobriety tests.
Field sobriety tests are known for their inaccurate and flawed administration and results. Unlike a breath or blood test, you can refuse to conduct it. And unlike a breath or blood test, the police will not obtain a warrant to force you to perform the test.
But the police will use your refusal to perform a field sobriety test as evidence you are intoxicated and then may proceed with an arrest. Keep in mind though, there are valid arguments that can be used against your refusal (and valid ones to use against failure to perform – it all depends on the facts and circumstances).
You have the right to refuse a search and seizure without a proper warrant.
You have the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizures. This means:
- There must have been reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop (e.g., you swerved into another lane with signaling you were going to do so).
- There must be probable cause to arrest you.
- The police – in most situations – cannot search your vehicle or you without your consent or a warrant.
- You can refuse to take a roadside breathalyzer test (but if arrested, you will have to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test and if you refuse, a warrant will likely be obtained).
You have the right to an attorney.
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the rights to an attorney. Do not answer the questions of the police, but politely advise them you want your attorney present first.
Contact an Experienced DUI Attorney in the DC / Virginia Metro Area Today
These rights you have during a traffic stop are no different than rights anyone has when suspected of a DUI or other criminal activity. If you believe your rights have been violated, S.L. England, trusted Virginia and D.C. criminal defense lawyer, will act quickly to address those violations, including filing a motion to suppress any evidence obtained from a true violation. Contact S.L. England, PLLC today to discuss your case.