This image was adapted from, “Golden Lady Justice, Bruges, Belgium” and is copyright 
        (c) 2008 Emmanuel Huybrechts, flickr name Manu_H and made available under a Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license

Your Rights

  • You have the right to refuse to tell the officer where you are coming from or going to.

  • You have the right to refuse to tell the officer if and what you were drinking.

  • You have the right to refuse to perform the field sobriety tests roadside or in a video  room after  you’ve been stopped by the police.

  • You have the right to refuse a Intoxilyzer test at the police station or roadside after you have been stopped or arrested for DWI.

  • You have the right to request to have your own private blood test performed by a doctor of your choosing.

  • By choosing to politely exercise your rights as noted above, you will greatly reduce the amount of evidence the police and prosecutor will have to use against you.

Remember, everything you say and do can and will be used against you in a court of law after you have been arrested for DWI.  The moment the arresting officer makes observations of your vehicle in traffic, he is beginning to gather evidence to be used against you.  If you are operating your motor vehicle between midnight and 3:00 a.m., there is a strong possibility that the officer is presuming that you are traveling from a nightclub or establishment that serves liquor.  In conjunction with their training in field sobriety testing, police officers also receive training to identify potential drunk drivers by various types of motor vehicle infractions, such as crossing marked lanes, weaving and failing to respond to traffic control devices.  Drivers traveling between the hours of midnight and 3:00 a.m., observed committing any of these types of motor vehicle infractions are likely to suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, even before the officer has approached the car.  Once the arresting police officer has approached your vehicle and detected an odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from your person, you have become a prime suspect for a DWI arrest.  Everything you say to the police officer from this point on will, in all likelihood, end up in his police report and be used against you in court.  You have a number of constitutional rights protected by the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which allow you to decline from providing evidence against yourself.  By exercising those rights, you greatly reduce the amount of evidence the police and prosecutor will have against you and consequently increase your likelihood of being found not guilty on the charges of DWI.

If you choose to exercise these rights you will most likely be arrested for DWI.  There is a strong chance, however that you would have been arrested anyway once the officer has pulled your vehicle over and identified that you have been drinking.  The officer’s options, once he has pulled your vehicle over and identified that you have been drinking prior to driving are essentially:

1 – To place you under arrest for DWI; or

2 – Give you a ticket for the motor vehicle infraction and allow you to continue driving knowing that you’ve been drinking.

Given that the officer doesn’t know you, doesn’t know where you’re coming from, doesn’t know where you’re going to, doesn’t know how much you’ve had to drink, the likelihood that you will be issued a citation and allowed to continue on your way is not great.  In not telling the officer where you’re coming from and how much you’ve had to drink, you will not have admitted to consuming alcohol prior to driving your car.  In not performing field sobriety tests, you will have eliminated the arresting officer’s ability to testify about his training and experience with the standardized field sobriety tests as designed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration and your failing those tests.  A professional and experienced officer testifying about the administration and your performance of standardized field sobriety testing is often the most damaging evidence against you in your drunk driving case.  Without proper cross-examination, jurors almost never learn that the tests are not given in strict accordance with the designed criteria.  Remember, anything you say can and will be used against you in court.

DWI is probably the one crime that is most committed by persons best described as ordinary citizens.  If you think within your own circle of family and friends, driving home after attending Christmas parties, office functions, weddings, and any other professional or social engagements, it is not uncommon for those persons to be driving their vehicle after consuming one or more drinks.  While they may not be demonstrating any visible signs of intoxication impairment as a result of alcohol they consumed, they will immediately become a DWI suspect the moment the officer observes an odor of alcohol coming from them. The vast majority of police officers are courteous and sympathetic in dealing with persons suspected of DWI.  They are, however, professional police officers and part of their duties include considerations of public safety after detecting the odor of alcohol.  Even though an officer may appear to be friendly or informal with you, be aware that he is still at all times investigating your case and gathering evidence in support of his arrest for drunk driving.  It is not uncommon for persons who have been stopped for DWI to let their guard down and speak or act more freely than is in their best interest because they think the police officers are being friendly and will help them out of the situation.  Persons arrested for DWI who behave in this manner often are surprised when they later review their police report and find it saturated with their comments and behavior that will ultimately be used against them by the prosecutor.  If you choose to exercise your rights as listed above, you will almost certainly find yourself arrested and charged with DWI.  You will, however, find yourself in a much stronger position to win your case when you get to court.

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