Getting arrested for a DUI can be terrifying. A DUI conviction can cost you money, your driver’s license and even your job depending on your employer. DUI attorneys leverage their experience and knowledge to help clients every day. As a lay person, unless you’ve been arrested for a DUI previously, you may have no idea what is ahead of you. Our West Palm Beach DUI attorneys have seen it all and are sometimes surprised at the information people don’t know. With years of experience, we’ve put together some of the most important secrets unveiled from a West Palm Beach DUI lawyer.
- Be polite. Being arrested is an unpleasant experience but it does not pay for you to express your frustration to the arresting officer. If you react angrily you will typically make several mistakes. You will vocalize your anger which leads to more information that can be used against you. In the worst case scenario you may have additional charges brought against you such as resisting arrest, assaulting an officer, etc. If you are arrested for DUI, don’t panic and don’t react to the stress of the situation.
- Anything you say can absolutely be used against you. You can and should assert your right to remain silent. Many clients get themselves into trouble by offering up information to the arresting officer. Do not answer any unnecessary questions. Don’t make small talk and don’t think that the police officers are your friends. There is no conversation between yourself and the police that is off the record.
- Law enforcement officials can and will lie to you. Police officers can lie to you. You will not need to lie in return because you will be exercising your right to remain silent (see above). Police may lie in an effort to get you to confess. They may also lie and state that if you confess your punishment will be more lenient. Do not have these discussions with an officer. Keep quiet and wait for your attorney.
- If an attorney recommends that you automatically take a plea deal – you should seek other counsel. If a lawyer, court appointed or otherwise, recommends you accept a plea deal without obtaining the details of your arrest it might be wise to seek other counsel. Whether you were legally drunk at the time of your arrest or not you may have a viable defense against the DUI charge. The only way a lawyer can determine this is to listen to the details of your arrest. If an attorney has not done this before recommending a plea bargain, keep looking.
- Beware of DUI myths. Many people still believe that if an arresting officer doesn’t show up in court the case is automatically dismissed. Rarely is this true. An officer usually does not need to be present for your arraignment and will be subpoenaed for actual court testimony if needed. Be wary of any information that doesn’t come from solid research or your attorney.
- An arresting officer needs probable cause. A police officer cannot pull you over randomly without probable cause. “Probable cause simply means that enough reliable information exists to support a reasonable belief that a person has committed a crime—in this case, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. It doesn’t take much for a police officer to show probable cause for a DUI. For example, police officers observed you driving as if impaired—that is, the police officer saw you swerving across the road, driving erratically or perhaps observed some other traffic violation.” While difficult to prove, if an officer did not have probable cause to pull you over, your case can be dismissed.
- Procedure, or lack thereof, can be your best defense against a DUI charge. When you detail what happened during the traffic stop and following arrest, even the mundane details matter. There are many points of procedure that can be challenged when defending a DUI case so even the littlest things can be important. Did the officer read you your Miranda rights? Were field tests conducted? If so, which ones? Did you take a breathalyzer? Do you know why you were pulled over initially? Were you stopped at a DUI checkpoint? A skilled DUI attorney may attempt to challenge the breathalyzer, field tests and/or officer’s execution of required procedure. When consulting with your attorney, be meticulous with the details.
- The rules and procedures after a DUI arrest are not designed in any way to make your life easier. When you are arrested for a DUI you will find that the process is not designed to accommodate you. Depending on your situation you may have your license immediately suspended but need to make it to court appearances and drive to the courthouse to pay fines. Don’t drive on a suspended license under any circumstances. Despite the inconvenience, follow the rules and restrictions to the letter. Not doing so will only make your situation and potential consequences worse.
A DUI conviction can bring severe consequences. These secrets of a West Palm Beach DUI attorney are only a sampling of the ins and outs of the DUI process. Experienced DUI attorneys can examine your case and minimize the long term effects of a DUI arrest.