With the holiday’s right around the corner, you can rest assured that the Pennsylvania local and State police are already busy planning out how and where they are going to erect more DUI checkpoints and focused patrols. This means that the chances of you being stopped for DUI are much higher during the holiday season.
Today, police apply a “better safe than sorry” policy when it comes to road policies because failure to mitigate a dire DUI situation when the opportunity was there not only exposes them to getting dismissed, but the state can get sued, people can be hurt or worse, and property can be damaged. Therefore, if you happen to hear something like “Have you been drinking today?” or “How much have you had to drink?” or even “Please step out of your car,” chances are that you are being evaluated for a DUI offence.
Because of this, you should be knowledgeable of your rights when it comes to DUI stops and DUI arrests in PA, what you can and can’t do at a checkpoint, and your course of action should you be arrested.
What do police officers look for?
An essential part of law enforcement training is learning how to spot a suspected drunk driver on the road by watching out for certain violations or actions of the motor vehicle code. Failure in one or all of them usually gives the indication that you might be intoxicated. Some of these are:
- Using your vehicle at night without turning on the headlights
- Using only high beams when driving and not turning them down for opposing traffic
- Failure to use turn signals when making turns
- Driving slowly in areas where you shouldn’t
- Weaving to and fro
- Short and sudden braking due to intoxication or slow reaction
By making an extra effort to avoid these violations, your chances of being pulled over by the police are reduced. Therefore, you should always remember that the police are usually looking for a cause to stop you and because of that, you shouldn’t give them one!
What can you do if you are pulled over?
If you ARE stopped by the police, the first thing you should do is pull over completely off the road. By doing so, the chances of your vehicle being towed if you are arrested are minimized. Second, compose yourself. This is crucial!
Never admit to anything
You should never incriminate yourself in any wrong doing. The police officer should do his/her job without the need for your assistance in incriminating yourself. This means that you should only answer questions that are asked. Do NOT volunteer additional information. In fact, you have the right to remain silent, although being cooperative will often help you in the long run.
You have the right to refuse to perform tasks and take tests
Usually if the police officer suspects that you are intoxicated, he/she may request you to recite the alphabet or perform other sobriety tests which they will record or film. There is sometimes a great misconception that you are supposed do whatever they say, yet this is not the case. You have rights. You can refuse all test including breath, blood, and urine by invoking your Fifth Amendment right to protect yourself against self-incrimination.
Should you refuse tests?
Normally, it will not help you to refuse these tests. And, refusal comes with an automatic one year license suspension for your first offense. For a first offence of DUI in PA, you will normally be on probation for 6 months, pay a fine, attend safety school, and submit any drug or alcohol treatment requirements from the court. You may also get community service. While refusing the tests may seem like a less severe option, this does not guarantee that you will not still be convicted of a DUI depending on the other evidence the officer was able to collect. They may also use your refusal against you in court. If you do choose to refuse, be absolutely certain you contact an experienced DUI attorney in Erie, PA as fast as possible!
Jot things down for your DUI attorney!
You should also try to create a drinking history by going back and getting witness names and addresses so that your DUI lawyer can go back and check on them to determine the truth of the matter and get facts for your case.
Contact a DUI attorney if you are arrested
If it does happen – you get arrested and charged with a DUI in Erie, Pennsylvania – the first and foremost thing you should do to is seek the assistance of an experienced, local Erie DUI lawyer to handle your case. Especially if there are serious consequences arising from your intoxication such as injury to people, damage to property, or if it is not your first DUI offense. Many times, even law enforcement may not be aware of all of your constitutional rights! An experienced DUI attorney will scrutinize the details of the evidence to make sure that local law enforcement did not violate your rights, will help you file appeals for license suspensions, attend preliminary hearings, and advise you on your best course of action. You could qualify for special programs or even avoid jail time with the right information and DUI attorney.
DUI Attorney Keith Clelland is an experienced Erie DUI lawyer who KNOWS your rights. Call Attorney Clelland at (814) 459-7754 or contact him online today for help with your DUI case!
All DUI cases are different. This article is meant for informational purposes. An experienced DUI attorney in Erie will be able to give you personalized advice and direction.