After Being Arrested, Do Not Make Admissions to Officers, Detectives, Judges or Anyone Else.
Almost half of people’s interactions with police officer comes before an arrest!The arrest happens after they’ve already been pulled over and have done field sobriety tests. There’s a lot that people need to know about what not to do when those red and blue lights come on.At the moment that a person notices that a police officer’s going to pull them over, usually due to the red and blue lights flashing behind them or possibly the siren going on,the person should immediately pull over into the closest safe area, such as a nearby driveway side of the road.
You should not continue to drive, because officers are watching to see how long it takes a person to pull over, not only to determine whether to charge someone with felony flight or awaiting the police officer, but also to determine how quickly a person can process that they have the red and blue lights behind them and react by pulling over.
When the officer pulls over and approaches a vehicle, you should not attempt to get out of the vehicle to meet the officer towards the rear of your vehicle.You should remain in your vehicle, put your hands on the steering wheel, and it is probably a good idea not to attempt to get out your license, registration and insurance before the officer approaches and asks for those items.
The officer doesn’t know who you are, doesn’t know what type of a person you are, they’re always concerned that someone in the vehicle may have weapon and your attempt to search for a driver’s license or registration or insurance could be interpreted by the officer as your attempt to find a weapon in order to harm them.
When an officer approaches the window, they may ask certain questions such as, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” You should not answer that question because it usually is going to be an admission to some sort of civil traffic violation or crime. It is best to either state nothing, tell the officer that you are going to invoke your right to remain silent or tell the officer that you don’t know why you were stopped.
You don’t want to admit to something which could give the officer a reasonable suspicion or a probable cause to launch it to a criminal investigation or possibly the opportunity to arrest you or cite you right there.You do not want to say that you were speeding or that you made a turn, you just want to allow the officer to explain to you why they stopped you and keep note of that when you talk to your attorney.
When the officer asks you for your license, registration, and insurance, you should provide them.You should not backtalk the officer, challenge the officer, or argue with the officer that they should go out and pull over real criminals.You should be as polite and cooperative as you can with the officers.
The officer may ask you while you’re still seated in the vehicle whether you have consumed any alcohol or done any drugs or taken any medications.You should not respond to that question. I do not recommend lying to officers and telling officers that you have not taken any alcohol, drugs or medication if you have.If you can honestly say that you have not done alcohol, drugs, or medication, then do so, but I don’t recommend that you lie to officers.
A better route would be to tell the officers that you are invoking your right to remain silent or explain to the officer that you are choosing not to answer the officer’s questions. Anything that you say that might be a lie could be used against you later on if you decide to go to trial to try and indicate that you’re willing to lie to the officer by saying you do not have any alcohol, so anything you say at trial can also be thought of as a lie.
When officer asks you to step out of the vehicle, you should not put up a fight, just exit the vehicle as instructed. If the officer asks you to perform field sobriety tests, which is usually going to be the pen in the front of the eyes test, walk a straight line test, stand on one leg test, keep your eyes closed and your feet together and tilt your head back test, or possibly the finger to nose test or the finger count test, you should not agree to do any of those tests.
You are not required to do them, there is really no punishment to doing it. Those tests are only used to give the officer additional information to use against you to try and prove that you were impaired. Realistically, most people cannot perform those tests.They don’t have balance and they don’t have the mental or physical ability to complete those tests successfully.
At some point, the police office may ask that a person blow into a little handheld portable breath testing device, and there are two schools of thoughts on that. One viewpoint is, “Do not provide any breath test at all, refuse to do it.”There is no consequence for refusing the breath test. However, even if you were to give the breath test in the little portable breath testing device, that result cannot be used against you at trial on a DUI case.
I believe that a person should refuse the portable breath test, mainly because a police officer can rely on the portable breath test result in determining whether to impound your vehicle for 30 days. If the portable breath test result is above 0.15, police officers will tend to impound the person’s vehicle, even if they subsequently get a breath test on the Intoxilyzer breath testing device, which can be used against someone in the court of law. Even if that breath test result, which is more reliable, comes back below 0.15, if the portable breath test result was 0.15, officer can still impound your vehicle.
If the officer tells the person that they are going to be placed under arrest, a person should not fight that, try to argue, or pull away; if the officer gets the impression that the person is putting up a fight or he’s trying to pull away, the officer can basically tackle the person to the ground, and another officer could get involved. The officer can also decide to charge the person with resisting arrest which, can be charged as a felony.
The fighting is done in a court with the judge and the prosecutor and the defense lawyer, it should not be done on the scene with police officers, especially considering that it is very unlikely that there are any video cameras showing what has taken place. If an officer says that you were putting up a fight, the chances are there’s not going to be any evidence to the contrary other than your statements or possibly your passenger’s statement, if any.
Once you’re transported to the police station, the officers should advise you that you are being requested to consent to a blood, breath, or urine test.At that point you should request to speak to an attorney.Indicate that you are not refusing, but you would like to see counsel in order to decide what you should do to proceed. If that doesn’t work for some reason, do not refuse the requested blood, breath, or urine test. This is generally the correct way to go about dealing with a DUI case or a person suspected of DUI.
If an officer suspects that a person was driving under the influence of drugs, alcohols, or medication, and they request that the person provide a blood test or urine test, the person should not refuse, should agree to do so and by agreeing to submit to the request to test by the officer, even if it is multiple tests, a person should agree to do multiple tests. You could lose your license for a year simply for refusing.
When a breath test or a blood draw is taking place, do not try to trick the machine, stick your tongue down the tube or move your arm when the officers are approaching with a needle. Many people are needle-phobic; unfortunately it is something that needs to be dealt with. You can explain to an officer that you are afraid of the needle and ask if the officer is willing to allow them to do some other type of tests, but know that it is completely at the discretion of the officer and you do not get to choose what tests you perform.
At some point, an officer should read you your Miranda Rights.Listen closely to the Miranda Rights and if you have not already asked for an attorney, ask for one to consult with.Ask for a private conversation and truly attempt to contact an attorney, either one you already know or one that is in a phone book.The officer should give you access to a phone and a phone book or your own cell phone in order to attempt to contact an attorney.
Do not answer any questions that are asked after being read the Miranda Rights. Don’t lie, simply say that you are invoking your right to remain silent or that you do not wish to answer the officer’s questions.
The one question to especially avoid is the one that asks you to rate your intoxication level on a scale of 0 to 10.This is a very damning question and can really hurt someone’s case when they rate themselves, because any answer other than the minimum answer basically indicates that the person believes that they are impaired to the slightest degree by the consumption of alcohol or use of drugs or medications and that, along with driving, is all the prosecutor is required to prove in order for a jury to convict them of a DUI.
You should request to be released in order to get an independent blood test. You do not actually have to get an independent blood test, but the officers are required not to interfere with the person’s right to get exculpatory evidence. Upon being released, contact an attorney as soon as you can.There are certain rights that apply, but they are limited.There are certain aspects of the case that can be lost if you are not properly advised, specifically the temporary license that the officer should have given the suspect, telling them that their license suspension is going to effect 15 days from the date of arrest.
As a General Rule of Thumb, Do Not Panic or Make Any Hasty Decisions.
It’s not a good idea to panic.Try to be as composed as possible; the officers are watching to see how you react to things. Officers will often put in police reports the person’s mood, whether a person had mood swings, for example if they’re happy one minute and if they’re yelling the next minute.Everything that a person does, the officers are taking note of. At this time, most officers do not have video cameras, so the officers are going to note whatever they observe.
Do not start yelling, and do not verbally or physically fight the officer.Nothing that a person does during a DUI investigation is going to get them off right then. The evidence is going to be whatever the evidence is, fighting is not going to help, and it’s not going to solve anything.It’s only going to hurt if you are trying to physically or verbally attack the officer. Stay calm and contact an attorney as soon as you can after you’ve been released.
If a Police Officer Has Been Polite or Nice to You, Don’t Use that as An Opportunity to Confess or Give Additional Information.
Officers know how to play the game; they know that if they are nice to the person, you are more likely to open up and answer all of the officer’s questions.It’s just common courtesy, and it’s what we’ve been brought up to do:If a nice police officer asks you question, you should answer it. But the reality is that it is not in your best interest and that it will hurt you to answer the officer’s questions.
That doesn’t mean that you have to be mean to the officer or that you can’t be nice back.You can politely tell the officer that you are invoking your right to remain silent, it is your constitutional right, and you can tell the officer that you would prefer not to answer the officer’s questions.You can be polite back to the officer without answering the officer’s questions and giving the officer the evidence that they need to convict you.
Don’t Try to Throw Yourself at the Mercy of the Court and Expect Leniency.
People can represent themselves in courts, but I absolutely do not recommend that a person try to represent themselves. At the very least, try to be represented by a public defender. Unfortunately, prosecutors and sometimes judges will take advantage of people who are not being represented by someone with the legal knowledge, either a public defender or a private attorney.You can see people that choose to represent themselves in court getting much longer sentences.In some cases, on many more charges than someone who is represented by a public defender or a private attorney.
The rule of thumb is that a person should always go with a private attorney if they can afford one, if not, they should always go with a public defender. A person should never represent themselves. Unfortunately, those who represent themselves do end up getting hurt more often, usually with higher fines, higher fees, more jail time, more charges, more points on the driving record and the potential for more license suspension or revocation.
Don’t Try to go at it Alone Even if You’ve Done Extensive Research or Know People.
The internet is filled with a lot of bad information. A lot of information on the internet is written by SEO companies and is not written by lawyers themselves. The information that is being provided here has actually been dictated by an attorney and written by an SEO company, so it is the information but there is a lot of bad information out there for those attorneys who do not dictate answers to questions.
Every court is different, every prosecutor is different; the way the case may have gone with your friend even if they had the same exact situation.If they were pulled over for speeding, even if they had the same blood test results, if that number is exactly the same, the cases can vastly differ depending on the court, the prosecutor and on the defense lawyer. A person should not think that they can represent themselves or that they should represent themselves based on what they read on the internet or based on the experiences of their friends.
Do Not Hire An Attorney Based on Price Alone.
A low cost attorney is better than no attorney, but price should not be the prevailing factor. Low cost attorneys tend to be people who are not successful and who are looking to make a quick buck. They are trying to get people in and out of this to get them money as soon as they can and get rid of the client, or they just do not have any experience and they’re fresh out of law school and they’re trying to get their education and get their experience on your back. Not all low cost attorneys are horrible, not all high cost attorneys are fantastic.
Research is the key; if a person is charged with a DUI, they really do want to look for a DUI attorney or an attorney that focuses on DUI; they do not necessarily want someone who says they are a DUI attorney and they’re really cheap. Research is the key; there are very few attorneys that solely focus on DUI defense representation. That is where you want to start, not necessarily at the attorney who is going to be the cheapest one, nor the attorney that’s going to be the most expensive one.
Do Not Just Settle With the First and Only Attorney that You Talk To.
It can be a good idea to shop around and talk to numerous attorneys, people who end up talking to a number of attorneys tend to get the sense of who knows what they’re talking about and who has no clue. A lot of research can be done online, so there is no need to necessarily talk to a number of different attorneys.
Usually if you tell the attorney that you are talking to other attorneys, they can give you a little insight about why they’re better, why the other attorney might not be as good, but one thing to keep in mind is attorneys are very busy and they would prefer not to take their time away from their current clients to meet with people who are really just shopping around or who are not interested in hiring them.
It’s fine to do your research ahead of time, but a try to narrow it down to maybe just a few attorneys to talk to and try not to waste the attorney’s time. It might also be a good idea to let the attorney know upfront that they’re talking to other attorneys or that they have already talked to other attorneys.
When I meet with potential clients, I treat them as if they’ve never talk to an attorney before and try to give them the most basic information concerning their charges. I can tell when they’ve already talked to another attorney, because they seem to zone me out because they’ve already heard what their charges mean. Doing research is key, doing multiple meetings is perfectly fine but attorneys appreciate it if you don’t waste your time because their time is very valuable.
Don’t Try to Drive or Operate a Vehicle if You Are Unable to Legally Do So.
People are going to do what they’re going to do. People have families that need to get places, they have to go to the grocery store and they have to work.The law says they’re not allowed to drive and there are consequences for being caught driving when someone’s license is suspended. People take chances. A lot of people get caught.
It’s surprising to hear how many people have never been pulled over before or rarely get pulled over until their license is suspended and then they’re constantly getting pulled over. It’s going to have long lasting effects, it can turn a 30-day license suspension into a one year license suspension, multiple license suspensions can be taken into consideration on insurance, it can be taken into consideration if someone gets in trouble for an aggravated DUI later on.
Obviously if the law says that you are not allowed to drive, all an attorney can really tell you is don’t drive.An attorney can attempt to tell you the consequences of not driving but it is amazing how often police officers will fine the person while they are driving on a suspended license.
It is even harder to drive on a suspended license if you are going to be driving between the hours of 9 pm and 6 am. There are less people on the road, officers are looking for excuses to pull people over, officers are allowed to do random license plate checks on vehicles, and they don’t need to have a reason to think that you’re committing a traffic violation.They could simply run the license plate and see that the owner of the vehicle has a suspended license and that can be a reason to stop someone.
It is not worth it to risk extending a 30-day license suspension into a one year license suspension or worse. If the law says that the person is not allowed to drive, they should not drive.
Don’t Continue to Put Yourself in Risky Situations,Such as Parties,that Involve Alcohol or Drugs.
Safety is smart. People want to go to parties, people want to go to bars, watch sport games, and that’s perfectly fine. By my recommendation, if you are going to consume alcohol or do any drugs, do not go anywhere near a vehicle.Do not go anywhere near the driver’s seat of the vehicle and do not be caught sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked vehicle.If you are going to use any type of intoxicating substance, get Uber, get a lift, get a cab, or get a ride home from a friend.
It is too easy to be charged with a DUI and because people don’t tend to know when they’ve had too much to drink or when they are truly impaired by drugs or medications or alcohol.The best rule is if you’ve taken anything or consumed anything that might be impairing, get another way home, and do not get behind the wheel.
Don’t Miss Any Meetings, Hearings, or Dates.
This is where having a private attorney as compared to a public defender or representing yourself comes into play. The most important thing is listen to your private attorney. A private attorney can stand in on your behalf for most of the court dates and hearings so you would not need to show up to court appearances. The biggest exception is in superior court for a felony charge, then the client has to show up to every court date regardless.
When a person is represented by a public defender, they are expected to be at every court date with their public defender. Same as when they are representing themselves: they are expected to attend every court date. If they do not show up to the court date or even if they’re late, the judge can issue a warrant for their arrest. The judge would notify the motor vehicle division that there was a warrant out for the person’s arrest, which will lead to their license being suspended, and that warrant can stay in place until the person shows up in court, where they can either be required to post a bond or they could be taken into custody and have a bond placed on them.
It’s important to find out what the court expects from them or find out what’s their public defender or their attorney expects from them as far as showing up to court appearances and as far as showing up to meetings or motor vehicle division hearings.
Don’t Think it’s Going to Be An Easy Case if the Miranda Warnings Weren’t Read to You.
Miranda Warnings began in Arizona and made it all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. Since that time, Arizona has consistently held that a person does not need to be read their Miranda Rights at any point as long as the person is not going to be asked incriminating questions after having the handcuffs placed on them or after being placed under arrest. So, if an officer does not read you Miranda Rights, it really means nothing.
That doesn’t mean that the case is going to go away, doesn’t mean that the officer is going to be punished. The only reason an officer needs to read someone Miranda Rights is if the person has already been arrested and the officer is going to ask incriminating questions. If the officer decides not to ask questions, they do not need to read Miranda Rights.
Don’t Talk Openly About Your Situation Excessively.
This can be an issue, especially when you have a person who is pulled over and arrested for a DUI and they have passengers in the vehicle. Sometimes people feel the need to talk to their passengers after they’ve been arrested, or the passengers feel the need to talk to their friend.A lot of times the officers will allow that, but the reason is because they are taking notes of that conversation. The person who has been arrested will usually say things to their friends without the officer prompting that information and because the person is saying it to their friends, Miranda Rights are not required.
Oftentimes, an officer will allow someone to talk to a passenger and will be taking notes or possibly recording the information. An officer can even allow someone to contact an attorney and can attempt to listen in on the conversation, unless the person actually requests a private conversation. It is not a default that the officer will give you a private conversation with an attorney. The person has to ask for a private conversation with an attorney and that is usually one of the first things that an attorney will say if they are contacted by someone who has recently been interested and who is in custody.
The attorney will inform the person who was arrested that they should request that the officer give them a private conversation or the opportunity to have a private conversation. Officers like it when suspects talk and it is not pursuant to their questioning because then, Miranda Rights don’t have to get involved and they’re able to get a lot of information that they may not have otherwise been able to get had they told the person what their constitutional rights are pursuant to the Miranda case.
Don’t Hold Back Information from Your Lawyer,Such as A Previous Conviction.
An attorney needs to know what you’re facing to properly advise you. There are certain circumstances where an attorney does want you to hold back information. Even though attorneys are representing their client, they cannot lie to the court. They cannot be disingenuous to the court.
Where this comes into play, for example, is if a client tells the attorney that they were driving the vehicle but then in reviewing all the evidence and in reviewing the police reports, it seems like the good issue might be that there is no evidence showing that the person was driving the vehicle and attorney has locked into what their client tells them.They cannot go in front of the judge or go in front of the jury and say that their client was not driving a vehicle if their client told them that they were.
The attorney should stop the client from telling them specific information that might be harmful to their case. Other than that, an attorney needs to know the type of case that they are dealing with, if the person had drugs or medications in their system, and if the person had prior convictions for anything. The important part is listen to what the attorney is asking and then answer appropriately. Most attorneys do not just want the person during a consultation or during representation to just start talking endlessly about everything that happened.
When someone comes to talk to me for a free consultation, I am asking very specific questions because I want very specific answers and I don’t necessarily want to give my potential client the opportunity to just tell me everything because once they tell me something, I may be stuck with it. There are certain things that I don’t necessarily want my client to tell me, I want to know what the evidence shows me. Sometimes, I prefer what the evidence seems to indicate than what my client has told me or would have told has taken place.
Do Not Compare Your Case With Someone Else’s,Whether they Were Successful or Unsuccessful.
Everyone’s case is really different. It is very hard to compare oranges to apples. Every police agency, police officer, prosecutor, judge, defense lawyer – everything is different. No two cases are identical or exactly alike!
It is very hard to compare one case to another. An attorney can go off of their experience in a specific court, they can usually let a potential client know the possible outcomes, the likelihood of a certain sentence, or possibly getting a case dismissed or getting charges reduced but no two cases are alike and a client can’t come in expecting to get the same result as someone else got because they think that the cases are similar.
Don’t Violate Any Post-Conviction Obligations, like Probation or Breathalyzer in the Car.
It’s always a good idea to follow all the terms of the sentence. Different courts handle the conditions of the sentence differently. Certain courts will always give someone probation, other courts will never give someone probation even though it is the same charge.Even though two people are charged and convicted of a first time regular DUI, one person may get 0 probation in one court while another person gets 5 years which is the maximum amount of probation in a different courts.
There are certain rules and regulations that judges may impose as part of the sentence, including requiring alcohol counseling, possibly doing a Mothers against Drunk Driving victim impact panel, paying off fines and fees, and doing jail time.Sometimes the ignition interlock device on a vehicle is part of someone’s probation, sometimes there will be additional counseling requirements especially for people who are under the age of 24.Sometimes there is a special program for younger people above and beyond the normal counseling requirements.
It is always a good idea to follow what is required, otherwise the judge can do an order to show cause, can require the person to come back into court, can put out a warrant or a bond.It is a lot easier if people just does what the judge tells them to do, not put it on the backburner, not think that they don’t have to make payments on their fines and fees or they don’t really have to serve their jail time.
Even though people have their own lives and their own issues in their lives and bills to pay and jobs to do, the court will not go away and people’s lives will be much easier and much better if they follow all the terms of their sentence and really put that in the forefront of their responsibilities. The sooner that they get done with all the terms of their sentence the sooner that is possible to get their case satisfied and they can move forward with the lives and hopefully never think about it again.
Don’t Give Up, Don’t Throw Yourself at the Mercy of the Court Out of Fear or Guilt.
Some people decide early on that they’re just going to take responsibility.They’re just going to show up at the first court date and plead guilty. I have talked to some of those people after the fact who have not only regretted it but wanted out of it and I’ve also talked to some people that pled guilty to something that they were actually innocent of.
It is very important to not just give up, not just be of the impression that you were driving, you were drunk, just take responsibility and get this over with. If you’re going to live with the consequences of your actions, that’s fine, but a lot of people seem to regret it later on when they realize that, “Well, I just paid a lot more than is normal,” or, “Just did a lot more jail time,” or, “My license just got suspended or revoked and I didn’t realize it.”
It is always a good idea to at least consult with a private attorney prior to making a decision that can affect you for the rest of your life.This can also apply to public defenders, people who decide, “Well, I don’t want to pay for the attorney, even though I have the money, I am going to choose to go with the public defender”, it’s good enough.
Some people really regret it.Quite a lot of people that I talk to really regret having gone with the public defender the first time around.All of a sudden, they get arrested the second time and they realize how much worse things have gotten because they have that prior DUI conviction and they start to realize that maybe they were issues that they could have fought or maybe they could have reduced down a DUI to something better had they had proper representation.
Taking responsibility is fine, but a person should get the information that they need so that they can make an informed decision either by pleading guilty to the court or taking a plea agreement. I never recommend that someone represent themselves.It is not a good idea to throw yourself on the mercy of the court, it is not a good idea to show up to that first court date and just tell the judge that they’re guilty.
People need to have the information that a private attorney can provide so that they can make an informed decision on whether they want to then go with the public defender, plead guilty to the court, or hire that private attorney. There is a reason why private defense attorneys exist. It is to help people and because they can make a difference. If private defense lawyers could not make a difference, they would be out of the job and they would not be charging the amounts that they’re charging. Hiring a private attorney is extremely important.
It Is Important To Handle The Motor Vehicle Division Aspect of a DUI Case
If you’re arrested for a DUI, very likely your license is going to be suspended for being suspect of a DUI. Usually it’s going to be two documents called, “Admin per se implied consent affidavit”. It is the same document but you get two copies of it usually, one copy is pink the other one is yellow. On occasion, a person would not get that at the time that they were arrested; they would end up having something similar mailed to them telling the person that their license is suspended for being suspected of DUI.
There are certain rights that a person has to ask for a hearing.Sometimes people think that they can just handle it themselves. There are different pitfalls in attempting to handle it yourself. I include representation at the Motor Vehicle Division as part of my representation on the case itself. When I do a consultation with people, I tell them that if you are going to represent yourself or if you’re going to go with a public defender, don’t screw with the Motor Vehicle Division aspect, just let the license suspension go into effect as scheduled, it’ll make their lives a lot easier.
When someone tries to handle it themselves, it is possible that they ask for a hearing the wrong way, there are certain legal reasons that the motor vehicle division will give someone a hearing. If the person does not ask for a hearing the correct way, their request for hearing can be denied outright and then they end up having to have a license suspension that goes into effect when they really wanted to be able to push it out for a little while.
The other bigger pitfall is that if a person does not handle the Motor Vehicle Division aspect correctly, they could end up having to have SR-22 high risk insurance where they would not otherwise have to have it, and that can lead to quite a lot of additional funding for this high risk insurance.
It’s also something that would be required for a few years all because someone did not handle the motor vehicle division aspect correctly. This is why people need to contact the private attorney as soon as possible and not put things on the back burner especially because of this motor vehicle division aspect which has to be handled within usually the first 15 days after a person is arrested. A person should not attempt to handle that themselves because of the amount of pitfalls and long-lasting consequences of mishandling that aspect of the case.
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“I am one of only a handful of Phoenix DUI Lawyers that focuses solely on DUI Defense representation.”
I have spent my entire career focused on Arizona DUI Defense representation, having personally defended over 4,200+ DUI clients in the past 19+ years.
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Brian Douglas Sloan