For many, holiday merriment includes the consumption of seasonal beers and festive spirits or intoxicating liquors. For an unfortunate few, this time also includes an arrest by law enforcement for driving under the influence. If you or someone you know is arrested for DWI, there are a few important steps to follow:
First, remember everything you do or say has the potential to be used against you. From the moment the officer’s lights come on until the time you are released, all events may be used as evidence against you in a criminal trial.
If STOPPED for DWI, BE POLITE AND COURTEOUS. This does not mean you have to agree to do everything the officer asks. You are only required to provide the officer identification, insurance and registration, if requested. You do not have to do anything else. Have your window down only a few inches with license, insurance, and registration ready for the officer before he approaches the car. Nervous fumbling around or handing the officer the wrong documentation may be included in the officer’s report as further evidence of intoxication.
Officers are often talkative and appear friendly. What they are actually doing is watching your movements and listening for slurred speech, so keep your mouth shut. Again, you do not have to answer any questions or perform any field sobriety tests – one leg stand, walk-and-turn, follow the pen light, etc.
If ARRESTED for DWI, CONTINUE TO BE POLITE AND COURTEOUS. Immediately ask for an attorney and then REMAIN SILENT. Once you have asked for an attorney, police should not ask you any more questions. However, some officers will continue to question you and your voluntary statements and actions can still be used against you. Miranda warnings do not protect voluntary statements or actions made after being arrested.
You may be asked whether you are willing to submit to a breath or blood test. Our firm recommends you say no to both tests. While your refusal can be used against you in court and can result in driver’s license suspension, it is better than possibly providing the arresting officer absolute proof of intoxication. Moreover, if your license is suspended, you have 15 days to request a hearing that may allow you to get your license back despite refusing to blow.
If TAKEN TO JAIL, you will again be asked to submit to a breath or blood test. Our firm again recommends you politely decline both tests. You are only required to identify yourself if asked but, again, you do not need to answer any other questions while in custody. Wait for your lawyer before talking!
Why hire a lawyer? Conviction of a first DWI is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. A second DWI conviction is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $4,000 fine. In addition, the Department of Public Safety may assess a surcharge of up to $6000 over three years. It is a permanent conviction on your record that could seriously impact your life and career.
The Coquat Law Firm provides representation for those accused of DWI. For assistance call (210) 875-8217 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.