Seeing an officer's flashing lights in the rear view mirror can make anyone nervous; if the driver has had anything to drink, being pulled over can be a nerve-wracking ordeal. If you have been pulled over and are suspected of DUI, there are steps you can take to protect your rights, and certain measures that will help your Oklahoma DUI lawyer build the strongest case for your defense.
The Traffic Stop
Except in the case of established sobriety checkpoints, police cannot pull you over without cause. If you are driving erratically or irregularly, police may suspect that you are driving under the influence and will pull you over to investigate.
Likewise, a minor traffic infraction such an incomplete stop can lead to a traffic stop. If, after pulling you over, the officer suspects you may have been drinking, he or she may begin to question you about where you have been, whether you have been drinking, and how much you have had to drink.
You do not have to answer any of these questions, which are designed to give the officer probable cause for your arrest. Instead, politely cooperate with requests for identification and courteously decline to answer any questions without the advice or presence of your Oklahoma DUI attorney. If you are subsequently arrested on suspicion of DUI, maintaining your right to remain silent means that you have not admitted to guilt, nor have you provided prosecutors with any statements that may be used against you in court.
Field Sobriety Testing
Oklahoma has an "Implied Consent Law," which means that your refusal to take a breath, blood, urine, or chemical test for DUI results in the automatic suspension of your license. This does not, however, pertain to portable roadside breathalyzers or field sobriety tests given prior to an arrest. These field sobriety tests are designed to indicate your intoxication and to give officers probable cause for your arrest.
If asked to take a field sobriety test, consider your options very carefully. These tests are difficult for even sober individuals to complete. This video from a popular comedy series several years ago pokes fun at the administration of a field sobriety test, but also demonstrates how such tests are designed to evoke evidence of guilt:
Despite the humorous take on field sobriety testing, a DUI arrest is no laughing matter. While your refusal to take a test may result in probable cause for your arrest, taking the test may provide strong evidence of your intoxication which can be used in your prosecution.
As for the portable breath test, it is generally ill-advised to take this test unless you have not been drinking at all. These tests indicate your blood alcohol concentration, not your level of impairment. For some individuals, blood alcohol concentration will be above the legal limit long before marked impairment occurs.
If you are arrested as a result of your traffic stop, whether you have submitted to field sobriety testing or refused to take the tests, tell police clearly that you want an attorney. You have the right to legal counsel, and any questioning must stop until your Oklahoma DUI defense lawyer is present.
Implied Consent Law
After you have been arrested on suspicion of DUI in Oklahoma, you will be asked to submit to a blood alcohol analysis. A police officer must read you the Implied Consent Warning in its entirety before asking you to submit to a test, generally a breathalyzer test.
You do not have the right to consult an attorney to help you decide whether or not to take the test. Bear in mind that refusal to submit to this test results in the automatic suspension of your license as an offense separate from any DUI offense with which you may be charged. Even if you are later acquitted of DUI, your license will remain suspended as a result of your refusal to submit to testing under Oklahoma's Implied Consent Law.
Keep in mind that a skilled Oklahoma DUI lawyer can build a successful defense in spite of breathalyzer evidence of your intoxication. From an illegal traffic stop to improper procedures in the administration of the test to improperly calibrated equipment, your attorney has an arsenal of resources to build a strong DUI defense.
Right to Counsel
Hiring a DUI defense lawyer is your constitutional right. Even a first offense misdemeanor DUI conviction has serious consequences including jail, the suspension of your license, fines, increased insurance premiums, and a criminal record that will haunt you in background checks for employment, education, and financial loans. To minimize the impact of a DUI arrest, to help avoid DUI conviction, or to avoid unnecessary consequences of conviction, contact an Oklahoma DUI defense attorney with the experience to successfully handle your case.