As the weather gets nicer and we approach summer activities, remember law enforcement steps up DUI enforcement and often sets up “DUI Checkpoints”. So it always a good idea to plan on not driving even if you have only had a couple of drinks. It’s best to have a “designated driver”, take a cab or even get a hotel room. In the morning, you’ll be glad you did!
If you do decide to drive, remember increased DUI enforcement increases you chances that if you are stopped for a routine traffic infraction, it might quickly turn into a DUI investigation. However, if you are stopped and you have been drinking there are some important things to remember. First, be courteous and polite to all police officers. Do not reach into the glove compartment to get you registration until asked to so by the officer. Also, never exit your car unless instructed to do so. It is a good idea not to volunteer any information, except your identification, even if the officer appears to be merely asking routine or friendly questions. Questions regarding the DUI investigation and not related to the traffic violation and the reason for the stop will be used against you. Typically, these are questions about how much alcohol you have had and where you have been drinking. Politely refuse to do any “field sobriety tests”. These tests are very subjective and many motorists are surprised to learn later that the officer thought they “failed”. Although the officer does not have to inform you, field sobriety tests are completely voluntary. Politely refuse to take any “preliminary alcohol screen” or PAS unless you are under 21 or on DUI probation. In California, the law requires that the officer advise the motorist that the PAS test is completely voluntary and optional unless the driver is under 21 or on DUI probation. If you do decide to take the PAS test, it will be used against you. However, it is important to remember and not confuse this breath test with one after you are arrested. If you are ultimately arrested for suspicion of DUI, then the law requires that you must take a blood or breath test. The officer must inform the motorist of this and allow them to choose which test they prefer. Failure to take the one of these tests after your DUI arrest will result in enhanced criminal penalties with what is called a “refusal DUI”. Lastly, if the officer confiscates your driver’s license, it is very important that you call the CA DMV within 10 days of your arrest and schedule a hearing. Failure to do so will result in you automatically losing your driver’s license- so it is always a good idea to schedule the hearing so you have additional time to consult with an attorney to learn what your options might be.