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What to Expect When You Drink, Drive, and Get Pulled Over

Posted on in DUI

DUI, pulled over, Santa Cruz DUI lawyerYou are out for a night of celebrations. You got a big promotion at work and your friends have taken you out for a night on the town to celebrate. After several locations and innumerable drinks later–who knows how many, you had a designated driver–it comes time for everyone to go home. Yet, when you find your driver, he has been drinking all night too. He appears to be worse off than you are. You decide to be the hero and take everyone home yourself.  After a few miles, you see dreaded police lights in your rearview mirror. You are about to get pulled over with a high probability that it is DUI related. What do you do?

During the Traffic Stop

By the time the officer has brought you to a stop, a phone call has already been made to "call in" the stop. This lets the dispatcher know that the officer is busy, a vehicle description, and the reason for the stop. Typically, a cover officer will be dispatched to the scene for the safety and the security of the officer, but also a witness to all events. Although this is not a requirement, more and more police officers are using dash or body cams in their vehicles or on their person today. This can either help or hurt a case, so be aware that one may be recording your every move.

Your goal is to be as cooperative and non-confrontational as possible. If a camera is recording, you want to make your case look as positive as possible. Before the officer leaves his vehicle, be sure you pull out your license and registration, place the documents on the dashboard, and put both hands on your steering wheel in plain sight. If you do not have time to get out your information, simply put your hands on the steering wheel until the officer requests the items. When they are requested, explain to the officer where they are located and slowly pull them out, make no sudden movements.

California Law and DUI Stops

The state of California has an "implied consent" law, which means that if you agree to use your right to operate a motor vehicle, you are also consenting to a field sobriety test in the form of a breath test.  California Vehicle Section Code 23152 states that it is illegal for anyone to drive impaired, either via drugs or alcohol.  The federal standard, which also applies in California is that a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08%.

You have the right to refuse the test; however, the officer can only pull you over with probable cause. Therefore, he or she may be able to use that cause to arrest you even if you refuse a test. Once you get to the police station, they can now require a blood, breath, or urine test because of the implied consent law. Any refusal of testing is subject to a fine as well as a suspension of your license for up to one year due to the first offense.

What Can You Do?

Refusing to take a field sobriety test does not necessarily mean that you cannot be found guilty of DUI. Just because there is no proof of what your exact BAC level was does not necessarily mean that you will get away without consequences. On the other hand, if you do take the test and are found guilty, it does not mean that charges cannot be dropped. It is always advised that in a situation such as a DUI that you seek legal counsel. You still have rights that need to be protected and defended.

With an aggressive attorney, the results have a greater possibility of going in your favor. If you or someone you love has been charged with a DUI are seeking an experienced Santa Cruz DUI attorney, John W. Thornton is here to fight for the respect and the defense that you deserve. Do not hesitate to call our skilled lawyer today at 831-426-5800.  


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