Presented to you by Los Angeles criminal defense attorney,

Robert Helfend

First and most importantly, let’s begin by saying that driving under the influence of alcohol or any other mind-altering substance puts your life and possibly other people’s lives in danger. Nothing positive comes out of driving while impaired. For instance, you could maim or kill someone or damage property beyond affordable repair. Your license can get revoked, leaving you with no other option than using public transportation (if any are available near you). In many cases, impaired drivers have lost their job.But what exactly defines a “drunk driver”? If your blood alcohol content is over the .08% legal standard, you are presumed to be under the influence of an alcoholic beverage. Whether you show signs of impairment or not, your blood alcohol content shown on a Breathalyzer machine may be enough evidence to convict you.

If you want to avoid being arrested altogether, simple math will tell you to avoid driving if you have been drinking. Stay away from the bar at the party, reject the beer at the Super Bowl BBQ, say no to the glass of wine during dinner and stick to water. (We hear it’s great for your overall health) Always have a designated driver!

If you’re nodding your head in disagreement and feel that you can enjoy a few drinks and still drive home safely then there are a few tips to help you size down the chances of being charged with a DUI offense.

If you’re pulled over

Stay calm. If you’ve been drinking and driving, and you’re pulled over by a Police Officer, remain calm. Remember you haven’t done anything wrong… yet. An Officer might pull you over to:

  • Warn you a tail light is out
  • Give you a citation for not stopping long enough at a stop sign

Obey the Officer

The Officer may ask for your license and registration. Make sure you:

  • Always keep your hands visible to the Officer.
  • Turn on an interior light so that you don’t fumble around looking for things.
  • Tell the Officer if it’s in your wallet or glove compartment. If it’s under the seat, let him/her know before you reach for it. Remain calm and polite.
  • Don’t volunteer information like, “I know I just left the bar. I only had a few drinks.” That can get a DUI investigation started.
  • If the Officer asks if you were drinking, don’t answer immediately. It is usually advisable to say no. The Officer is going to do what they are going to do without this answer. It usually is the odor of alcohol, which prompts the Officer to commence a DUI investigation anyway. The Officer should be fulfilling his/her duty, it is not mandatory to provide an outline of your evening activities.

The Officer may decide that s/he wants you to perform a physical test or have you blow into an Intoxizyzer machine, or he/she may let you leave.

A physical test

With the physical test, he/she may ask you to touch your nose or walk a straight line. You have the right to respectfully decline. Don’t be defensive. Just politely say no thank you. You will not be penalized for refusing to take a physical test. Sometimes, even sober people fail these tests because of their anxiety.

A Breathalyzer machine test

Next, if he/she wants to proceed with a Breathalyzer machine test, you can elect not to take the test. If you know you are way over the limit of .08%, the breath alcohol test can be used as evidence of intoxication.

Without this test result, prosecutors are left with the Officer’s testimony of your driving and performance on the field sobriety tests, if you submitted to those tests. However, failure to submit to a blood alcohol test when requested by a Police Officer who suspects you of DUI, will subject you to a license suspension by your local DMV. You must consider all the ramifications of your choices.

It should be noted that the instruments may not be accurate and their ultimate result will depend on:

  • your body weight
  • how much you had to drink
  • and how much time has passed since you had your last drink

Breathalyzers can actually be inaccurate. Your blood alcohol has to be less than 0.08% for you to pass the test. A competent Criminal Defense Attorney will know the weaknesses in these breath tests.

If you’re arrested

If your blood alcohol result was .08% or higher, the Officer will probably arrest you. Don’t say anything. You are not obligated to answer any questions. Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney, as you will have some issues with the DMV that need to be addressed shortly after an arrest for DUI.

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