There’s a lot to know about DUI charges. They can be a stressful and complicated process for anyone. For many, they don’t know how to react to these charges and may have a lot of questions.
DUI charges are a massive part of any criminal defense practice since they affect such a wide range of people, and it’s natural to want to know more about them. Here, experienced defense attorney Rahul Balaram answers six frequently asked questions about DUIs.
1. Do I Have to Answer the Officer When He Asks If I’ve Been Drinking?
In short, no. If you are pulled over and asked if you’ve been drinking, you do not have to answer.
In the case that this happens, you have the right to remain silent, as to prevent saying anything that could be potentially used to incriminate you. Instead, you may respond “I prefer not to answer” or request to talk to a lawyer before you speak to an officer of the law.
2. Do I Have to Agree to a Field Sobriety Test?
In most states, you do not. If a police officer asks you to comply to a field sobriety test, they have already determined that you have been drinking. At this point, they are only looking for evidence to incriminate you further to use later when they charge you. Previous studies have determined that field sobriety tests are unreliable, and so there will not likely be any legal punishments for refusing to submit to one.
3. At What Point Am I Entitled to an Attorney?
You are entitled to an attorney at any time. From the moment you see those flashing red and blue lights, you have the right to stay quiet and request an attorney. You have the right not to consent to speak to the officer, as well as decline a car search. However, if they see an item out already, they may have a reasonable concern to search your vehicle. If they see anything, tell them you will not speak to anyone without your attorney present.
4. Can I Refuse a Chemical Test?
Technically, you can, however submitting to one will likely work out more in your favor.
For refusing, you will have to face substantial punishments, such as the suspension of your driver’s license for one year, jail sentence, and your refusal could be considered an admission of guilt in a court of law. If this is your second DUI in 10 years, your license could be suspended for two years. You could also end up with a work-restriction license if you refuse a chemical test.
5. What Charges Could I Be Facing?
You may first be charged with either a DUI, driving while under the influence; DWI, driving while intoxicated; or OWI, operating while intoxicated. However, 48 states now add a secondary charge, called “per se,” if your chemical test results show your blood alcohol content was above 0.08%. If you refused a chemical test, courts could not charge you with per se due to the lack of evidence.
6. Should I Hire a DUI Attorney?
DUI charges are more complicated and stricter than ever, which makes it nearly impossible to defend yourself if you don’t have the experience and educational background needed to fight these charges.
If you ever find yourself facing DUI charges, the best way to defend yourself is by hiring a DUI attorney. They know the ins and outs of DUI laws and know how to reduce or even expunge charges for you. An experienced professional like Rahul Balaram is a valuable asset to have in this situation.
About Rahul Balaram
Rahul Balaram worked as a Public Defender for Solano County for many years and has represented hundreds of clients. Most recently, he worked on the misdemeanor conflict panel representing indigent clients. Rahul can be contacted at the Balaram Law Office in Santa Rosa and is available for consultation by phone and text 24/7. He represents his clients with dignity, compassion, and competence.