How to Protect Your Rights After a DUI Stop
Driving under the influence of alcohol can have serious consequences and should be avoided for your safety and the safety of those around you. Here, the DUI attorney Jeff Scholnick provides a few legal tips to help protect you and your rights.
It is important to remember that the U.S. Constitution and Maryland state law provides every Maryland citizen with inalienable rights in the event that they are stopped by law enforcement officials. Read below to learn more about how to protect these rights if you are pulled over.
Plead the Fifth
Once you have pulled over to a safe location, turn off your vehicle and keep both hands on the wheel until the officer asks for your license and registration—it is important to comply with an officer’s request for your license and registration, and failure to do so may result in your arrest. It is important to note, however, that any other questions an officer asks do not have to be answered. This may include questions regarding where you are going, where you have been, how much you have had to drink and whether there is alcohol in the vehicle. Instead of answering, assert your Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and respectfully decline to answer the question.
Understand the Laws Surrounding Chemical Testing
All 50 states have an implied consent law, which states that by having a driver’s license, you have implicitly agreed to submit to a chemical test to determine blood alcohol concentration (BAC) any time you operate a vehicle. However, this does not mean that you are required to submit to a breathalyzer test; it is within your rights to request a blood or urine test at the station instead of a breathalyzer test at the scene.
Breathalyzers are known for their inaccuracy and the results of a breathalyzer test are often contested in court. Blood and urine tests will convey a far more accurate result of your BAC. Although more accurate, this test will have to be taken at the police station, and if a driver has consumed alcohol prior to driving, it will have more time to be absorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in a higher BAC at the time of the test. The choice is ultimately the driver’s—but know that you do have a choice.
Choose Whether to Submit to a Field Sobriety Test
After suspecting that a driver is intoxicated, an officer may ask that they complete a field sobriety test, such as a walk-and-turn test or one-leg stand test. You are not under any legal obligation to submit to this test and are completely within your rights to decline to take one. These tests are very subjective and can incriminate even a sober driver if he or she misunderstands the officer or makes a simple mistake.
Contact Legal Representation
DUI allegations can result in serious penalties, even for a first-time offender. A first-time DUI conviction can result in a $1,000 fine, up to one year in jail, a six-month revocation of your license and 12 points added to your driving record; second-time convictions incur even steeper penalties. In order to protect your rights, it is always in your best interest to consult with a lawyer on how to proceed.
Jeff Scholnick has the experience necessary to vigorously defend your rights in court: Contact us today for consultation or representation and ensure yourself proper protection under the law!
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