While the warm weather and sunshine always makes this time of year the best for social gatherings, we must also be careful of how we get to and from those gatherings. Summertime means increased patrols from your local police department who aim to detect drunk drivers.
Therefore, it’s imperative that you follow the law and drive responsibly. However, if you are unfortunate enough to be pulled over after consuming alcohol (or cannabis), you should read on how to put yourself in the best position in a bad situation.
Faulty equipment can lead to a drunk driving arrest
First, CHECK YOUR EQUIPMENT. You should regularly check your vehicle to make sure all of your equipment is working properly. This includes things like headlights, taillights, brake lights, license plate light, etc. This is an automatic way to draw attention from an officer who may never have pulled you over otherwise.
Moreover, make sure this equipment is on! Numerous clients get pulled over for accidently bumping the headlight knob on the control panel. Finally, DITCH THE TINTS. You may look cool, but an officer’s first instinct is to pull you over.
YOU are the evidence in a drunk driving investigation
When you get pulled over, you must pay attention to everything you say and do. YOU are the best piece of evidence against yourself. The officer takes mental notes of everything from your appearance to your behavior.
Red eyes, disheveled clothes and incoherent/nervous chatter are all things that immediately turn a speeding ticket into an OWI investigation. The most important thing you can do is KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. You should not admit to any drinking or coming from a bar. An admission to drinking will not get you a break, despite what the officer may tell you.
If the officer asks you to step out of the vehicle, you should always ask if you’re free to go or if you are detained. This question can greatly help your defense down the road. If the officer tells you that you must exit the vehicle, it is generally a good idea to do so. However, you are not required to submit to ANY field sobriety test that the officer asks you to perform.
The officer will use these tests against you to establish your guilt. While you are free to perform them if you wish, remember there is NO PENALTY FOR REFUSING THE FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS. (These tests usually include walking a straight line, standing on one leg and checking your eyes.)
You are NOT required to take a roadside Preliminary Breath Test
The officer may also ask you to submit to a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT). Refusing to submit to this test is punishable only by a civil infraction and fine. However, if you take this test, you will be giving the officer the best piece of evidence to arrest you. If you do not take the PBT, the case against you is much weaker. A breath sample above a .08 gives the officer probable cause to arrest you.
If you are placed under arrest, continue to remain silent. The officer is continuously looking for ways to make the case stronger. However, when you are asked to take a chemical test post-arrest, you should always consider agreeing. You must still take the test whether or not you took the PBT roadside.
If you refuse a breath or blood test, a warrant will be drafted to obtain a blood sample. Moreover, your license is suspended for one year and six points will be added to your license. Therefore, refusing the chemical test post-arrest won’t help your case. In fact, more stress will add to the situation.
Clearly, the best way to avoid all of these issues is to be responsible. Don’t drink and drive. Call a ride to pick you up or stay the night at someone’s house. However, if you find yourself in the above situation, remember one thing: YOU are biggest source of evidence against yourself.
Exercise your right to remain silent and don’t let the police bully you into making their job easier. If you are still arrested, hire an attorney who is experienced in defending OWI offenses.
Christopher Urban graduated from Oakland University in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. In addition to graduating Summa Cum Laude, Chris was awarded the Donald I. Warren Award for Academic Excellence throughout his time at the university. Upon graduation, Chris began working as Mr. Morris’ driver for court appointments to gain experience before law school. Chris was awarded the Dean’s Scholar Full Tuition Scholarship to Wayne State University. During his time in law school, Chris was a member of the Wayne State Law Mock Trial Team, being named Vice-Chairman his third year. He also worked in the Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer Clinic through Karmanos Cancer Center, providing legal services to low income individuals with cancer.
Chris brings a wealth of experience to the firm. He has performed numerous “ride-alongs” with the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department and the Sterling Heights Police Department. In addition, he was an intern at the Detroit DEA Field Office. Finally, he is a published author (Sexual Victimization: Then and Now. ISBN 978-1483308173). Chris has attended the NHTSA Field Sobriety Test Seminar and the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) seminar.
Christopher is also a member of the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD). Chris is one of a select few attorneys in Michigan to be a part of this prestigious college. He has attended the Summer Seminar at Harvard Law School, which focused specifically on OWI defense trial tactics. Moreover, he is preparing to become board certified as an OWI attorney. The NCDD holds the only specialty certifying test in DUI Law under the American Bar Association.