One of the most stressful things that can happen to a person is getting pulled over and charged with drunk driving, and it happens much more often than you might think. In 2013, there were more than 214,800 drunk driving arrests in California alone. Regardless of whether or not you’ve been accused of DUI, here is what you need to know about the charges, your rights, and when to hire a DUI defense lawyer.
One of the charges that relate to drunk driving is just driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two. The specific amount of alcohol or drugs in a person’s system does not matter for this charge — just that he or she was operating a motor vehicle while impaired by some substance. This charge can still result in an arrest and conviction.
The second charge that relates to drunk driving is the one that states that a person cannot operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. This charge does not have to stem from an episode of bad driving by an individual. A person may be pulled over for a headlight being out, and if he or she has a BAC of 0.08% or higher, he or she can be charged.
If you get pulled over while driving under the influence, it’s important that you always remember your rights. When you are pulled over, you are not in custody and are not required to answer any questions because the Fifth Amendment protects you from self-incrimination. You should be cooperative with the officer in providing your license and registration, but you do not have to answer questions about how much you’ve had to drink or whether or not you feel drunk. Additionally, you are not required to submit to any field sobriety tests, which can help an officer gauge whether or not you are intoxicated — and provide something to be held against you in court.
What to Do Next
If you’ve been pulled over for DUI, finding a lawyer who has experience in DUI defense should be your first priority. People who are accused of driving under the influence can face such consequences as jail time, license revocation, and of course, the social repercussions of having a criminal charge on their record. In addition to these, people accused of DUI can face monetary consequences as well — to the tune of about $10,000 after fees, fines, and the cost of representation. If you have been accused of DUI, finding the right DUI defense lawyer is essential for getting the best possible outcome for your case.