When arrested for driving under the influence, it is crucial to recognize and understand that you've constitutional rights. Exercising the rights might have a positive impact as far as the criminal charge and possible case outcome are concerned. Every case in Los Angeles is unique, and case facts dictate the influence you've over the arrest. That is why Jonathan Franklin DUI Attorney offers practical tips about your rights and obligations following a drunk-driving arrest.
Defining California DUI
DUI means driving under the influence of alcohol; when your physical and mental abilities are too impaired.
California imposes a legal blood alcohol concentration for many adult motorists of 0.08 percent. Nevertheless, the law imposes a lower limit for underage, rideshare, limo, commercial, and taxi drivers.
You can also be convicted of DUI anytime even if your BAC is below the legal limit, provided:
- You are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and
- You cannot drive your car with caution like a sober driver under similar circumstances.
Why Might the Police Pull You Over?
Police officers might pull you over for the inability to remain within your traffic lane, aggressive driving, speeding, or failing to yield at intersections, stop lights, and stop signs.
More often than not, law enforcers initiate a conversation after the traffic stop to analyze the motorist's ability to maintain eye contact and go on with a conversation. The officers will be searching for symptoms like slurred speech, alcoholic odor, occasional comments by the motorists that they were partying or in a bar, and bloodshot eyes.
Right to Legal Representation
The 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution requires defendants in every criminal prosecution, including DUI, to seek the experienced assistance of legal counsel. It means you are entitled to legal representation during the criminal justice process. Additionally, it means if you cannot afford a defense lawyer, the government will appoint a public defender free of charge.
The lawyer's role is vital in all phases of your criminal process and almost all criminal cases, mainly those with the likelihood of serving time since you cannot put a price tag on your freedom. While responsibilities of a legal counsel vary depending primarily on the case and facts surrounding the charges, the primary roles of a defense attorney include the below:
- Advising you of your constitutional rights and the possible case outcome at various phases of your criminal process
- Ensuring your rights are not violated in any court proceeding or through police conduct
- Engaging in plea bargain negotiations with the prosecutor
Your attorney can also investigate evidence and facts, cross-examine government witnesses, object to improper evidence and questions, and present all viable legal defenses.
You Have a Right to Obtain a Copy of the Police Report
A police report gives details on what occurred from the arresting police officers' perceptive. In layman's language, it clarifies why the police arrested you and the proof the police think supports your drunk driving charges.
A police report is not deemed evidence itself. Nevertheless, it gives lawyers an idea of what the police could testify to and their proof at trial. It allows the prosecutor and the defense to assess the case strengths and loopholes.
While every DUI case is unique, common information found in police reports include:
- Why the police pulled the driver over
- How the police came to think that the motorist was intoxicated
- The performance on the field sobriety test
- The breathalyzer tests results
Generally, the report will include a narrative of events written by the police.
You can get the police report by visiting the police department and requesting a copy.
Avoiding Chemical Tests and Field Sobriety Tests
You are entitled to refuse chemical tests and field sobriety tests.
The FSTs are subjective; they could be used against a driver even when they think they can pass the tests.
If the officers threaten you because you refused to take the chemical test, you should politely tell them that you'll agree to the testing because of the threats, but you don't give consent. You can later use the evidence in court to overturn your test results.
Moreover, a chemical test is subjective because health conditions and medications can result in fake positive results.
The police officers should advise you that refusing to submit to a chemical test could be used against you in court. The consequences of chemical test refusal in LA include:
- Enhanced penalties on top of standard DUI penalties, and
- A compulsory driver's license suspension regardless of the case outcome
You are entitled to consult with your lawyer before taking the test.
Right Against Unlawful Search and Seizure
Search and seizure law protects residents against unreasonable police intrusion under the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The police cannot subject you to an illegal search and seizure without a search warrant or a legal exception recognized by the court.
Law enforcers are permitted to seize everything in plain view when they approach a vehicle during traffic stops. Therefore, it would be best to keep substances out of plain view. For police officers to search a motor vehicle, your trunk, or glove compartment, they should have probable cause. Probable cause means they have a reason to think you have violated DUI laws. Perfect examples of probable cause include:
- They saw you hiding something in your car
- They smell alcohol in your motor vehicle
- They saw you throwing something out of the window
If the officer doesn't have reasonable suspicions, they should obtain a search warrant.
Nevertheless, many motorists allow law enforcers to search the vehicles. If you give consent to the search, it's lawful for them to act so. You shouldn't give permission. If you don't want to argue with the officers, you can say nothing. Alternatively, you could say that you would like to speak with your legal counsel before allowing the search or answering any questions.
Miranda Warning in Your Drunk Driving Case
Miranda rights are cautioning the law enforcer should read to you during your arrest before interrogating you. The rights stem from protecting against self-incrimination under the 5th Amendment. They apply in each criminal case, including DUI cases.
There aren't specific words needed for the Miranda warnings to be legal. The prosecution team could use any statements provided your rights are stated clearly. A typical Miranda warning in your drunk driving case can read as below:
- You are entitled to remain silent
- Whatever you say could be used against you in a court of law
- You are entitled to speak with an attorney and have them present during your police interrogation
- If you can't afford to retain an attorney, the court can appoint one
Then, the police officer will inquire whether you wish to waive your Miranda right and talk to them. You don't have to act so. You can invoke your entitlement at any moment.
Should the Police Read You the Rights During the DUI Investigation and at the Traffic Stop?
The officer isn't required to read the Miranda right during your DUI investigation. The investigation involves anything that happens after the police officer stops you but before the arrest. It can take place at the sobriety checkpoint or after you're pulled over.
At this moment, you aren't detained, and the law enforcer doesn't need to read Miranda warnings before questioning.
During the investigation, the police might do at least one of the below:
- Ask for your registration and license
- Ask you to perform a field sobriety test
- Ask you questions to see whether you display intoxication signs like confusion, dilated pupils, watery eyes, and slurred speech
Some of the questions the officer might ask you include:
- Where do you come from
- Whether you have been drinking
- Whether you have taken any drugs or medication that day
You Should Always Exercise Your Entitlement to Remain Silent Whenever Speaking with the Law Enforcers
The police officer doesn't need to read you the Miranda warning for you to exercise your right. You don't have to answer their questions during driving under the influence traffic stop. All you have to do during the investigation is show the officer your registration and driver's license and sometimes proof of auto coverage.
The Police Officer Doesn't Essentially Have to Read Your Miranda Right After Making an Arrest
Miranda warnings are only needed after the officer starts custodial interrogation (questioning where the police ask questions that elicit an incriminating answer).
The questions are similar to those the officer asks during the investigation. For example, the officer might ask whether you have taken alcohol and the amount.
How You Can Invoke Your Miranda Rights
While there are no specific words to invoke your Miranda rights, you should state the words affirmatively and clearly. You can say that you are invoking your right to talk with your criminal defense lawyer or remain silent.
Keeping quiet isn't enough, and the police could use your refusal as proof of guilt. However, choosing to remain silent can't be used against you once you invoke your right.
If you are arrested for drunk driving, you need to take the steps below to protect your rights:
- Affirmatively stating that you are invoking your rights
- Request to talk with your lawyer
- Avoid speaking with any person other than your attorney
How You Can Waive Your Miranda Rights
After reading the Miranda warnings, the law enforcer will ask you whether you have understood all rights. They will also ask you whether you want to talk to them. It is called a Miranda waiver.
There aren't precise words the officer should use. Some law enforcers will wait until they've enumerated all rights.
During this time, you ought to affirmatively invoke your rights.
You can invoke your right at any moment, even if you had waived them before. The entitlement applies on a proceeding basis. Every incriminating statement you make after this will be inadmissible. However, any statement before invoking the rights might be admissible, hinging on when and whether the police read the warnings.
While you don't necessarily have to exercise the rights at once, you should exercise them affirmatively.
What Occurs If Your Miranda Rights Were Violated In Your DUI Criminal Case?
If the police officers violated your Miranda rights, your defense lawyer could bring a motion to suppress this evidence. Should the judge grant the motion, they will ignore any statement you made following the violation from proof.
Some of the ways the law enforcers could break your rights include:
- The law enforcers failing to give warnings
- The officers coercing or threatening you to waive your rights
- The police continued to question you after requesting your attorney
- The police continued to question you after waiving your entitlement to remain silent
- The police officer failed to read you your rights before starting custodial interrogation
A violation doesn't always mean your DUI charges will be dismissed, or everything you said will be inadmissible in court. Only what you said during the right violation will become inadmissible.
The prosecutor is still legally permitted to allow into evidence all statements made:
- In your own accord (not regarding the interrogation)
- During the DUI investigation
- After you voluntarily and knowingly waived your rights
The Prosecutor Could Introduce Other Pieces of Proof of Drunk Driving
Even if there exists a violation, the prosecution could present other proof of drunk driving. The evidence could include:
- Your FSTs performance
- Your traffic violations
- Notable signs of mental and physical impairment
- Your BAC
- Traffic cam still photography or video footage
- Existence of alcohol in your car
- Witness statements
Contact Skilled DUI Defense Attorney Near Me
Constitutional rights violation is a regrettable police tactic that Los Angeles defense attorneys encounter almost daily. If the police violated your rights in any way, you require an experienced DUI defense lawyer who can correct the wrong.
Please call the Jonathan Franklin DUI Attorney at 323-464-6700 to discuss the case. Our compassionate legal counsels are ready to offer a comprehensive free consultation so that we can explore issues, including the violations surrounding the arrest. Moreover, we can advise you on how to challenge police misconduct and work aggressively to reduce or dismiss the criminal charges.