In Virginia, approximately 30,000 individuals are arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) each year. While avoiding an arrest for DUI during a traffic stop may be difficult no matter what you do, avoiding a conviction for that DUI is another story and requires evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.
The DUI Stop
While everyone's experience varies, the general situation arises where the individual is out driving past midnight. An officer pulls up behind them and, as unknown to them, the officer's investigation has already started. Indeed, why would anyone be out driving at that hour?
The officer will closely observe the individual's driving behavior and, unfortunately, no one is a perfect driver and will periodically weave within their own lane. While they are not leaving their lane, Neal v. Commonwealth previously held that drivers can be stopped for weaving within their lane. In fact, the driver in that case never even left their lane!
Once the driver is stopped for failing to maintain their lane of travel, the officer will ask where they're coming from, how many drinks they've had and, once again, where they're coming from. They are looking at the individual's speech, eyes, and whether there is any odor of alcohol emanating from their breath. You'd be surprised how, when people lie about not coming from a bar, the place they give to the cop is in the wrong direction from where they're traveling from. The cop is trained to ask multiple questions in multiple variations attempting to confuse the driver and incriminate themselves further by giving conflicting information.
Once the officer has established the individual has a strong odor of alcohol, blood shot eyes, slurred speech, fumbled for their registration, and can't give a clear answer as to where they're coming from, field sobriety tests will be offered. See the DUI section of our website for more information on the particular field sobriety tests that will be offered.
Following the field sobriety tests, the officer will offer a preliminary breath test (the PBT). While inadmissible at trial, it is admissible to establish probable cause for arrest. After all, if the individual does not perform well on the field sobriety tests and there is suspect driving behavior, the PBT showing alcohol in their blood will surely establish probable cause for intoxication.
Once the individual is arrested, they'll be taken to a magistrate and a warrant may likely be issued for Driving While Intoxicated. Hiring a lawyer for the DUI charge will then be very important as recommended in our blog.
What to do during DUI stop
The question then becomes what can you do to at the scene to avoid a conviction? Here it is: Roll your window down an inch, hand over your license and registration, say nothing, do nothing. Keep your eyes straight ahead and answer no questions. No evidence, no DUI. Don't give in to their pleas or anger. Exercise your right to remain to silent.
Please contact us with any questions you may have.