Your Rights When You’re Stopped for a DUI or DWI

It should go without saying that you should never, under any circumstances, drive while under the influence of an intoxicating substance, such as alcohol, marijuana or heroin. However, if you are pulled over by the police on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), there are a few things you should keep in mind, so that you can best protect your rights.

First, when you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI or DWI, you will likely be asked to answer questions about your recent activities, including any intoxicating substances you may have taken. You do not need to answer the police officer’s questions, and if you choose not to, you should tell them that you are invoking your 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination (more commonly known as the right to remain silent). You can also refuse to allow the police to search your vehicle if they ask to, unless they present a valid warrant. If they say they have a warrant, ask them to produce it. If they don’t, they may conduct a search anyway, but it can help later on if you need to challenge the search in court.

After that, however, they will likely ask you to submit to a field sobriety test and/or a breathalyzer test, and unfortunately, if you refuse to submit to this test, you will have to forfeit your driver’s license. The reasoning is that you implicitly agree to not drive impaired when you get your driver’s license and refusing to submit to a field sobriety test or breathalyzer on reasonable suspicion of impaired driving is a violation of the terms of the license. Regardless of whether you submit to the test or how the test goes, you may then be placed under arrest. At this point, you have a right to an attorney, and should get in contact with one as soon as possible.

If you are charged with a serious traffic-related criminal matter involving driving while impaired or distracted driving, it is important to seek legal representation immediately. The Long Island traffic and criminal defense lawyers at McGuire, Peláez & Bennett, PC are experienced in handling these cases and will fight vigorously on your behalf. For information or to schedule a consultation, contact our Suffolk County traffic lawyers at (631) 348-1702.

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