DUI Tip # 1. Play it safe, if you go out to Drink Alcohol, have a Designated Driver, or a safe way to get home. It sounds very simple: Don’t Drink & Drive. Yet every day, hundreds of people around the State do just that. If you have never been convicted of a DUI, you can’t fully understand the consequences of a DUI conviction on your record. Not only will it have an impact on your license, and possibly your livelihood, but there are thousands of dollars in fines and fees, numerous counseling sessions, the requirement for an Ignition Interlock Device, potential for probation, and jail time. These are all mandatory requirements for anyone convicted of a DUI, and these are the minimums for a 1st Time Regular Misdemeanor DUI conviction. If you have a higher blood alcohol content, or it is not your first time, or you are charged with a Felony, everything gets much, much more serious and difficult. It is not illegal to drink alcohol, then get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. That type of clear cut rule would not fill the coffers of the cities, counties, and state of Arizona. However, knowing the potential consequences of a DUI conviction can put you in the position to plan ahead if you decide to go out and drink. Have a designated driver, arrange for a cab, do your drinking at home, or if you are going to go to a bar or restaurant to drink, leave the car at home. Unlike most criminal offenses, people don’t intend to drive drunk. It just kinda happens. One of the consequences of drinking alcohol to excess is that your inhibitions and reasoning go out the window. Even police officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and doctors get DUIs, and these are the people who you would think would know better. Plan ahead, it is the best, safest way to have your fun, without potentially suffering the consequences.
DUI Tip # 2. If you get pulled over, don’t be your own worst enemy. There is a fine line between being cooperative and protecting yourself. When an officer stops you, especially if it is late at night or early in the morning, chances are the officer believes that you are driving drunk. The officer will approach your vehicle and may ask you some questions. The officer may tell you that they stopped you for something (didn’t use turn signal, made a wide turn, have a crack in your windshield, etc.) but it is really just an excuse to see you, and talk to you, and determine if there are any signs that you are driving under the influence. There are certain things the officer may notice that you just can’t help. Bloodshot and Watery Eyes, Flushed Face, Slurred Speech, Odor of Alcohol, these are all things that tend to show up in a police report, and are things a person does not have control over. However, Bloodshot and Watery Eyes, Flushed Face, and Slurred Speech can be caused by numerous things. Odor of Alcohol can be due to recent consumption rather than quantity consumed. The problems really pile up when that nice, friendly officer starts asking questions. With only the above information, all the “signs and symptoms of alcohol impairment” that the officer will point to can potentially be explained away. Not so much when the officer asks if you have been drinking, and you answer “Yes, 7 beers.” And when the officer asks if you feel impaired by alcohol, and you say “Yes, absolutely.” With those admissions, the case becomes worse. Without those admissions, the case is easier to argue before a jury. This isn’t to say that you should lie to the officer. The fact of the matter is, you have a Constitutional Right to Remain Silent, and not incriminate yourself. Utilize it.
DUI Tip # 3. Don’t do Field Sobriety Tests (Walk & Turn, 1 Leg Stand, Finger-to-Nose Test, Watch-the-Pen Test, etc.) or the Portable Breath Test (small handheld device often used on the scene of the stop). While you have to give the officer your license, registration, and proof of insurance upon request, you DO NOT need to do any of those Field Sobriety Tests that the officer requests, nor blow into the Portable Breath Test device. Do you really think the officer is going to put a gun to your head and force you to do these things. The ONLY reason the officer wants you to do those test is so the officer can mark down everything you did wrong, in order to prove at trial, if necessary, that you truly were impaired by alcohol. I have seen, very very rarely, people do fantastic on those tests, yet they were still arrested, the same as everyone else, and were still charged with DUI. The officer’s can’t force you to do these tests; it only gives the officer evidence to use against you; just don’t do it. The officer may tell you that they just want to make sure you are OK to drive. It is a trick. Don’t do it. You may still get arrested, but 99.9% chance you were going to get arrested anyway. At least now, there is a definite lack of evidence to use against you if charges are ultimately brought.
DUI Tip # 4. You have a Constitutional Right to an Attorney, utilize it. Once arrested, you have the Constitutional Right to speak to an Attorney for advice. Unlike what you see in TV Shows, however, officers rarely, if ever, read you your “Miranda Rights” once those handcuffs are placed on you. Often the officer will wait until they have collected all the evidence and statements from you that they wanted, then, maybe, they will tell you that you have the Right to Remain Silent, and the Right to Speak with an Attorney. The truth of the matter is, you don’t have to wait for the officer to tell you that you have the Right to Counsel. Upon arrest, you DO have the Right to Counsel. This is such an important Constitutional Right, that our court system has said that if it is violated, the case should be dismissed. I have had cases where someone was looking at many years in prison, had huge a Blood Alcohol Content, and even got into a car accident… the evidence against them was enormous, but, my client (the suspect at the time) asked to speak with an Attorney, that request was ignored, and the entire case was thrown out because my client’s Constitutional Rights were violated. After arrest, you have the Right to Counsel. You have the right to a private conversation with an Attorney on the phone PRIOR to taking the blood, breath, or urine test. An Attorney is trained to guide you through the steps to ensure that you are able to gather the evidence you may need to prove your innocence, at the only time it is available. That is why it is so important to contact an Attorney after you have been arrested for a DUI.
DUI Tip # 5. Ask to be released in order to get an Independent Blood Test. Sometimes, after a person has been arrested for DUI, and has had their blood drawn or breath tests done, the officer will tell the suspect that they have the right to an Independent Blood Test. This can literally be a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Most people, unfortunately, don’t want to bother, or don’t understand what it means. Basically, the officer has gathered evidence to use against you at trial on a charge of DUI, specifically a sample of blood, or your breath test results. You, however, have the right to prove your innocence – proof that the officer’s evidence is absolutely wrong. It is not enough that you are able to retest the blood sample that the officer took from you, you have the right to your own blood test, extracted by your own phlebotomist, and tested by your own laboratory. This is the “Right to an Independent Test.” The interesting thing about this is, while most people can’t, in reality, get this Independent Blood Test; because they don’t know who to call, don’t know where to go, don’t want to get another blood test done, and can’t just walk into a hospital and tell them to take your blood, that is not the point. The issue is, did the police officer interfere with your Right to an Independent Test. You don’t actually have to get an Independent Blood Test, but you want to ask to be released to get an Independent Blood Test. If the officer was going to take you to jail, this can be your “Get Out of Jail Free” card. If the officer doesn’t allow you to get this independent evidence sufficiently enough, it can lead to their blood or breath test evidence being suppressed… because basically it is unfair. If the officers are allowed to gather evidence to be used against you, you should be allowed to gather evidence to be used to combat the officer’s evidence. You have a right to prove your innocence, if that is interfered with, the officer has violated your right to Due Process and Fundamental Fairness in the legal system.
DUI Tip # 6. Write your own version of a police report. The officers that were involved in your arrest all write police reports. It is to refresh their recollection of the incident while it is still fresh in their minds. This is done so that when the officer testifies at trial, if the case goes to trial, the officer can pretend to remember everything about what happened those early morning hours months earlier, when you were arrested. To the officers, you are just another person that was arrested. To you, this was a huge deal, and something that doesn’t happen everyday. Occasionally, there is a good legal issue that is going to be argued, either for suppression of evidence, or dismissal of a charge or the case. What tends to happen is that it will be your word against the police officer’s word. Now, while this was a very big deal in your life, and you are likely to remember what really happened, the truth of the matter is, that the judge and jury are going to look at you as the drunk one, and look at the officer as the sober one (whether it is true or not, we would really never know). The officer will be able to say that he was sober, and that he wrote a police report to refresh his recollection of the event near the time when the event took place. The prosecutor will often argue that you were drunk, and you didn’t write a report, and because of the passage of time, your memories are not reliable. A case can take a few months, to many months, and occasionally years to get to trial. No one’s memory will be perfect during the passage of that much time. So when the officer refreshes his recollection off his police report, he is given more credibility when he testifies. You, on the other hand, didn’t write a report of what happened, close in time, to preserve all the facts of the incident… unless you actually did. It is a good idea to write your own version of a police report of everything that happened during the incident, while it is still fresh in your mind. It is a fantastic thing when the prosecutor starts challenging the client’s memory at trial, and arguing that the client’s memory is faulty, and that they didn’t write a report, only for the client to respond, “Well, yes I did. I wrote it right after this incident, and I reviewed it in preparation for my testimony today.” That puts the prosecutor in their place, and makes the prosecutor look like an uninformed jerk in front of the jury. The thing is, while it is a good idea to write your own version of a police report, with everything you can remember about the incident, you don’t necessarily want to show it to your Attorney. Let them know you did it, but don’t show it to them unless they request it. There are certain ethical guidelines that an Attorney must follow, including not misleading the judge or prosecutor. If the actual police report says that you were stopped solely for not using a turn signal, the Attorney may be able to write a Motion to Suppress All Evidence due to an Unconstitutional Stop. However if the Attorney saw your report of what happened that night, and you wrote that you were driving all over the road, and had a passenger hanging out the window, there could be ethical considerations in your Attorney arguing that the only reason the officer pulled you over was for not using a turn signal, and that without more, the stop was illegal.
DUI Tip # 7. Contact an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer. Oftentimes, who you select as your DUI Defense Lawyer can make all the difference. It is important to understand that all Lawyers are not created equal. While all Attorneys went to Law School, and all Attorneys passed a State Bar Exam, each Attorney has a different area of focus to their law practice. Bottom line, you don’t want to have a Divorce Attorney represent you on a DUI case, just as you wouldn’t want a DUI Attorney to represent you in a Divorce. These are totally different areas of the law. DUI is its own specialty. It has its own separate area in law books – even separate to other Criminal Laws – and there are thousands of Appellate and Supreme Court Decisions that solely concern DUI case law. That being said, even a Criminal Lawyer may not be a good DUI Lawyer. While these areas of the law are similar in some respects, a Criminal Lawyer spends their time on thefts, rapes, murders, trespassings, assaults, drug possession, fraud, kidnapping, etc. Criminal law is huge, and expansive, and then to throw DUI on top of that, isn’t helping the client. The Law Office of Brian Douglas Sloan focuses solely on DUI & Vehicular-Related Offenses. Attorney Brian Sloan keeps up-to-date on the latest changes in DUI case law, the current strategies on DUI Defense, and even teaches other Attorneys how to represent DUI cases in statewide seminars. Attorney Brian Sloan has numerous instances of Case Dismissed, Charges Dismissed, Evidence Suppressed, Not Guilty Verdicts at trial, and beneficial plea agreements for his clients. Many times Attorney Brian Sloan has taken over cases from the Public Defender’s Office, or from other private attorneys, who didn’t see what Attorney Brian Sloan saw in the case. Once taken over, and properly argued, evidence was suppressed, charges were dismissed, or whole cases were dismissed. This is because Attorney Brian Sloan doesn’t just argue the “standard” arguments of other lawyers. Attorney Brian Sloan is known for his outside-the-box, creative arguments, that increase the chances of success, with suppression of evidence and dismissal of charges and cases. You are in good hands with Attorney Brian Sloan representing you.