Each day, an average of 28 people lose their precious lives in drunk-driving car accidents in the US. Often, the victims of those crashes include not the driver but children, passengers, and innocent pedestrians or bystanders. As per NHTSA, an estimate of one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in America involve drunk drivers.
Accordingly, it is no surprise that driving under the influence (DUI) is a deadly move that is considered a serious offense in every state with severe repercussions.
Dangers of Drunk Driving
Understanding the perils of driving while drunk is no rocket science. When alcohol enters the bloodstream, it impairs the frontal lobe, the rational part of the brain responsible for your concentration, judgment, decision-making, and reaction time as you drive. That ultimately serves as a recipe for disaster, as when you get behind the wheel intoxicated, you give up your ability to use common sense and think and act responsibly.
Appropriately, impaired driving is a dangerous crime as it increases the chances of being involved in a traffic collision manifold. The result could be catastrophic injuries, property damage, or at worse, death. With that said, many people, unfortunately, continue to be put at risk due to the plain ignorance of drunk drivers.
It is Saturday night, and you are driving back home from an epic party at your best friend’s house- but the last thing on your mind is getting pulled over for DUI. However, when you drink and drive, regardless of how conservatively, there is a huge possibility that you might be stopped on suspicion of drunk driving. After all, it only takes a few drinks to exceed the blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of 0.08%.
Being accused of driving under the influence can be a nerve-wracking experience. From your driver’s license revocation to hefty fines or possible arrest, the consequences of impaired driving can take a massive toll on your personal, professional, and financial life. If a breathalyzer or field sobriety test proves you guilty of drinking and driving, there is a high probability that you will be arrested and charged, landing in jail for a few nights.
In the worst-case scenario, if you cause property damage or loss of life, your mandatory jail term will, in all likelihood, be a lot longer than a night or two. Lastly, a felony on your criminal record can severely limit your future opportunities in society, especially if convicted.
Know Your Legal Rights
There are not many experiences more terrifying than noticing red and blue lights in your side view mirror. If you get pulled over by law enforcement and have been drinking over the legal alcohol limit, it is vital not to panic but take some deep breaths and calm yourself.
As mentioned by a DUI Attorney in Wichita, KS, a DUI arrest does not always necessarily lead to a conviction, and with a good lawyer by your side, you could have your criminal charges dismissed, no matter which state you live in.
The good news is that there are some steps you can take to protect your legal rights, with the possibility of avoiding the serious consequences associated with driving under the influence. Knowing your legal rights can help you make smart decisions and build a strong case in your favor if accused of DUI. They are as follows:
Refusing Field Sobriety Testing
Firstly, it is imperative to know that you possess the legal right to refuse field sobriety or portable breathalyzer tests. While the police will likely arrest you if they have probable cause to believe that you are under the influence, such as the smell of alcohol or slurred speech, declining a sobriety test makes it harder for the prosecution to prove you guilty of driving while drunk.
By declining to take the test, you do not provide the state a compelling piece of evidence, the test results, which could be later used against you in the court of law to prove you guilty.
Choosing to Stay Silent
It is in your best interests to converse as little as possible with the officers to avoid saying anything that might complicate your case. When law enforcement pulls you over on suspicion of DUI, the officers may ask you several questions like how much alcohol you have had to drink or from where you are coming.
However, it is essential to know that you are not legally required to answer these questions and have the right to remain silent. The officers will attempt to compel you to say things that may warrant further investigation and build a case against you, and you have to resist that.
Right to Legal Representation
Perhaps the most crucial step after getting arrested is to contact your legal counsel as soon as possible, a right guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. Again, try not to answer any questions until your defense attorney arrives to avoid providing any incriminating information. There may be several legal defenses that could weaken the prosecution’s case against you, from arguing an illegal stop to questioning the accuracy of sobriety testing.
A skilled and experienced attorney will thoroughly review your case to determine what exactly happened during the initial traffic stop and whether any of your rights were violated. Even if there are no defenses available and you plead guilty to DUI, an attorney may obtain you a favorable plea bargain offer from the prosecution. Accordingly, that could help you circumvent the worst penalties associated with a DUI, such as a lengthy jail term.
As you may know by now, there is no reason great enough to sit behind the wheel in a state of intoxication. With that said, it is crucial to know that you have some constitutional rights and protections in the event of a DUI arrest.
Knowing them and working with a reputable defense attorney who has a good understanding of the nuances of DUI laws and a passion for standing up for the rights of DUI defendants is vital when it comes to securing a favorable outcome of your case and avoiding a possible conviction.