Protecting Your Rights
Know and Exercise Your Legal Rights
Being pulled over and arrested by a police officer on suspicion of drunk driving or drug-impaired driving is generally a very stressful and often humiliating experience. You may be under pressure when dealing with law enforcement and feel as though there is very little you can do in the way of protecting yourself. The fact of the matter is, however, that you have certain rights which you can exercise when pulled over and even after being arrested. You should do so, always remembering to insist on your rights in a calm and polite way. It never works to antagonize a police officer and could result in adding to the charges you may eventually face.
First of all, a police officer must have “probable cause” for pulling you over which can be stated. You cannot be stopped for no reason, unless it is a sobriety checkpoint where random motorists are checked for DUI. Speeding or disobeying traffic signs, signals, or laws, equipment violations on your car, or erratic driving are all valid reasons for being stopped and detained. Once stopped, you do not have to answer any questions and the less you say the better. This includes answers to questions about whether or how much you have been drinking, how fast you were driving, or why you were pulled over.
Search and Seizure and Sobriety Tests
You also do not have to consent to having your car searched. This should, again, be stated in a calm and polite way. If obvious illegal activity or items are openly viewable, however, your vehicle may be searched anyway and the evidence seized.
You do not have to consent to taking field sobriety tests which are roadside physical tests to help the police officer decide whether to arrest you. These tests are not the same as chemical tests, such as breathalyzer or blood tests. Refusing a chemical test can result in serious penalties. You still, however, must be informed of your right to refuse such tests, regardless of the consequences.
Your Rights Following an Arrest
When arrested on suspicion of DUI, you have the right to remain silent, to be informed of your Miranda rights, and to speak with an attorney. If you find yourself in this situation, the sooner you contact a Virginia DUI attorney at the firm, the better off you will be as effective action in your defense can begin immediately. Attorney Pignone is a seasoned DUI defense lawyer whose legal background includes working in the county prosecutor’s office. This background gives him a strong command and deep insight into how DUI cases are developed and prosecuted.