5 Common Myths Regarding Your DUI Rights If you get pulled over by a law enforcement officer on a suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may think you know your legal rights…but you might be surprised to know how wrong you are. Here are five common myths (and the correlating truths) regarding your DUI rights!
1. A Police Officer Can Pull You Over Anytime A police officer can’t pull you over for no reason, they must have “probable cause”. However, there is a long list of “probable causes” they can use to justify a traffic stop. Reasons can include:
- Speeding or driving under the speed limit
- Not using a turn signal, using it too soon before a turn, or not turning after signalling
- Rolling through or not taking your turn at a stop sign
- A burned out headlight, tail light, brake light, license plate light, or turn signal
- Improperly aimed headlights
- Improperly or unreadable license plate
- Expired or damaged inspection and registration stickers
- Dark-tinted windows, loud exhaust pipe, unrepaired body damage, cracked windshield
- A car registered in the name of someone who has been convicted of drunk driving
2. You Can’t Record Your Traffic Stop Law enforcement can and often do record traffic stops. You can also legally record the stop. Unfortunately, this act may be met with an unhappy officer, which won’t help your cause. DUI attorneys believe it’s best to turn off the recording if asked, since emotions and actions can quickly escalate to a worse situation.
3. You Must Answer Every Question If you are pulled over, anxiety and nervousness often take over and you are likely to incriminate yourself whether or not you are actually guilty. If the officer asks you any questions, don’t lie, but it may be in your best interest to politely tell the officer you’re sorry but you don’t feel comfortable giving any answers. You DO need to give an officer your name, license, registration, and insurance information.
4. You Have to Take a Field Sobriety or Breathalyzer Test You are under no legal obligation to perform a field sobriety or hand-held breathalyzer test while on the road. If you refuse to take these tests, you are likely to be required to take a chemical test or face severe penalties. The results from breath tests are more unreliable than blood tests so if given a choice, choose the breathalyzer so its validity can be argued in court.
5. Your Car Can Be Searched Without Your Permission A police officer must obtain your permission or have a valid reason, such as the following, in order to search your car:
Dealing with the legalities of a DUI stop is often better done in court rather than in the moment. When in doubt, conform to what the officer says and seek the help of a qualified San Diego DUI lawyer. Call Bradley Corbett for help navigating your case through the complicated legal system so you can get a fair trial.
- Probable cause to believe there is evidence of a crime in your vehicle
- Believes it is necessary to their own protection
- A valid search warrant
- You have already been arrested and the search is related to that arrest
Bradley Corbett is a criminal defense attorney in San Diego. He graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo Utah in 2004. Later he enrolled at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego where he participated in a prestigious internship program with the Los Angeles County Public Defender. Since then he has handled over 2,000 cases.