If you see blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror and know there’s a chance your blood alcohol level is over the limit, you’ll be desperate to avoid being charged with a DUI. Your instinct may be to refuse the breathalyzer test, but is that a wise choice? While the best way to avoid having to Google “DUI lawyers near me” or “lawyers in Overland Park, KS” is to not drive under the influence at all, if you have been driving, things will go best for you when you make smart decisions once pulled over.
Are You Required to Take a Breathalyzer Test?
Chances are you’ve probably heard from a friend that you shouldn’t take a breathalyzer test if you’re pulled over for driving while intoxicated. Many people believe that refusing a blood alcohol test is the only way to dodge a DUI conviction. Unfortunately, while you can refuse to consent to a field sobriety test, including a breathalyzer, the officer can still arrest you.
Whether you consent to a sobriety test or not, if the officer has reason to believe you are intoxicated or driving impaired, you will be arrested and taken to the police station. Once you arrive at the station, you will receive compulsory testing to determine your blood alcohol level.
If you refuse to complete a breathalyzer when you are pulled over, there is a strong likelihood that you will receive an administrative license suspension for a year. This suspension will not be eligible for modification until 60 to 90 days after being initiated.
Depending on the level of blood alcohol the chemical testing eventually shows, you may end up with harsher punishment for refusing the roadside breathalyzer test than the original offense. However, the judge and jury often view your refusal to take the test as a sign that you were guilty, believing you would take the breathalyzer if you were not driving under the influence.
What Should You Do If You Are Stopped for a Suspected DUI?
When you are stopped for a DUI offense, you can take specific actions to improve your chances of a smooth encounter with the police. However, there are also things you should avoid for your safety and avoid potential legal ramifications.
Show You’re Not a Threat
Once you notice a police officer is pursuing you, stop your car in a safe place as soon as one becomes available. You will want to pull over as quickly as possible as long as doing so does not put you or others in danger. Once you have safely stopped, turn on your interior light so that you are clearly visible to the officer and roll your window down part way.
If the officer requests your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance, provide them. As you collect the items, move slowly and keep your hands visible to the officer.
Many people respond to stressful situations by attempting to relieve the tension by talking. If the police pull you over because they suspect you are driving under the influence, being talkative and over-explaining will only highlight your intoxication. Don’t make excuses or offer explanations, as that only increases your appearance of guilt. The less you say, the easier it is to avoid saying something incriminating that can be used against you later.
However, you should ask the officer if you may leave. If they do not allow you to go, then politely let them know that you wish to remain silent and would like to contact a lawyer. The law does not require them to allow you to contact an attorney unless you have taken a blood, breath, or urine test or they have begun questioning you at the station.
Search “DUI Lawyers Near Me”
Do not try to explain the situation, sign anything, or make any decisions without consulting a lawyer. If you are arrested, you have the right to make one call to a local number. When you use your call to contact your lawyer, the police are required to give you privacy. Since the police can listen in on calls that aren’t to your lawyer, be selective about what you share.
Decline the Field Sobriety Test
Even though declining the roadside tests will likely result in the suspension of your license, it’s often worth it. Field sobriety tests are challenging to complete, even for entirely sober individuals. In addition, older, more heavyset, or injured individuals may be unable to complete the tasks. Agreeing to a field sobriety test could make you appear drunk despite being sober.
Ask for a Hearing
Since there is a high probability of your driver’s license being suspended, you’ll need to ask for an administrative license hearing. This hearing is separate from your DUI charge and allows you to challenge the suspension of your license.
You must request a hearing within 14 days of your DUI arrest to have the opportunity to keep your driving privileges. Additionally, if you have asked for a hearing, you will have full use of your license until the hearing date, after which your driving status will be decided.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can Officers Tell if I’m Driving Drunk?
Officers look for certain driving behaviors to determine if they should pull a driver over for suspected driving under the influence. Actions like erratic acceleration and deceleration, weaving, crossing the center line, and unwarranted stopping or swerving are all signs that something is amiss beyond just being a poor driver.
What Rights Does the Officer Have to Inform Me of Before Testing?
Before asking you to participate in a breath, blood, or urine test to determine your blood alcohol level, you must be informed of your rights. The rights pertaining to these tests are called the Kansas “Implied Consent Advisories.” You’ll want to let your lawyer know if the police officer did not provide you with information regarding these rights before testing since it could benefit your case.
Are There Legal Defenses for Refusing a Breath Test?
Even if the evidence seems to work against you, there is a potential defense for any DUI charge. Your lawyer will determine which defense makes the most sense for your charge.
For example, if you were confused by the officer’s questions and the arrest, they could claim that you misunderstood the request. Or, depending on your age or physical condition, they could state you were physically unable to perform the test requirement, which is why you refused.
Will There Be Fewer Repercussions If I Plead Guilty?
There are very few circumstances where it benefits you to plead guilty. Even if you were driving drunk, you don’t want to admit guilt unless your attorney tells you otherwise. Since the consequences of a DUI conviction are severe, pleading guilty can result in you being sentenced unreasonably harshly.
The police will try to convince you that pleading guilty will get you an easier sentence, but that is not true. Do not trust the promises made to you by law enforcement officers: they are not required to honor verbal agreements. You will only want to plead guilty if the lawyer you hire recommends it as your only option.
Trust a DUI Lawyer in Overland Park, KS
Even the most responsible individuals can make bad decisions; for some, these mistakes can have long-lasting and devastating consequences. You don’t deserve your freedom and future stripped away because of one poor choice. Contacting a DUI lawyer should be your first move following a DUI arrest.
Today’s error doesn’t have to destroy your tomorrow; contact Billam & Henderson, LLC about your DUI offense. Our team will defend your rights and protect your future.