It’s important to know your rights should you be pulled over for suspicion of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in San Diego County.
Here are some key points to be aware of during a traffic stop:
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I. Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent
While you must establish your identity and address (via your driver’s license), as well as proof of registration and insurance, California law dictates that you are not required to make any admissions or statements regarding drinking and driving to a police officer.
For example, the officer has no right to ask you questions such as where you’ve been, where you’re going, what you’ve eaten or why you’re driving.
It is best to remain as silent as possible. Be prepared to use statements like:
- “With all due respect, I will only answer questions required by law”
- “May I call my attorney if your questioning is going to continue?”
By politely refusing to any questions during the DUI investigation, you can avoid having statements used against you at a later date in court.
II. Do Not Submit to a Preliminary Alcohol Test (PAS)
Drivers over the age of 21 have the right to avoid taking a preliminary alcohol screening test. The test is completely voluntary and you have the right to refuse it.
III. Never Submit to a Search of Your Vehicle & Property
If a police officer asks to search your vehicle, ask them to clarify what they are expecting to find. It is a good indicator that an officer lacks sufficient probable cause if they cannot clearly identify the crime or contraband that they suspect you’re concealing.
If you are asked to exit your vehicle, make sure you do the following first:
- Close your windows
- Lock your vehicle
This will help prevent an illegal search of your property.
IV. Do not Submit to a Field Sobriety Test
Field sobriety tests are neither recognized by the courts, nor admissible as evidence. They are simply used by police officers to develop probable cause and build a case against you.
You should politely decline as long as you are over the age of 21. Minors who are under 21 must comply under California’s zero tolerance laws.
V. If Arrested, You Must Choose Between a Blood or Breath Test
You must submit to a blood or breath test AFTER you have been arrested for DUI.
VI. Always Be Polite and Courteous
It is always best to be respectful and cooperative during a traffic stop. Arguing with a police officer will only make matters worse and could bring additional charges against you.