It all begins with the “stop.” The “stop” is what happened to cause the police to come into contact with you in the first place. The most common scenario is when the police allege that committed a traffic offense. The police stop you for that alleged infraction, ask you for your license, registration, and proof of insurance, and tells you why she or he stopped you. Usually, these infractions are merely violations that you cannot be arrested for.
The reason given by police for stopping you is the first opportunity we have to attack your arrest. Before we permit the police to use the information they gather after they stop you, we must first analyze whether they have violated your rights by unlawfully stopping you in the first place. If we can prove to the court that the stop was unlawful, we can suppress any evidence the police gathered after the stop. When this happens, your case will likely be dismissed. We have successfully proven that police stopped our clients unlawfully and have had the cases against them dismissed.
What happens next is critical. Once the police “stop” you, they begin making observations that lead to your arrest. The officer takes note that you have “red, bloodshot or glassy” eyes. That you have “slurred” speech, had difficulty producing your license and registration, and that you had “an odor of alcoholic beverage emanating from your breath.” The police will later testify that all these observations or “articulable facts” caused them to inquire further.
The officer is likely to ask you a number of questions such as “Do you know why I stopped you?”, “Where are you coming from?”, “Have you been drinking tonight?” NONE OF THESE QUESTIONS ARE DESIGNED TO HELP THE OFFICER DECIDE WHETHER YOU ARE OKAY TO GO ON YOUR WAY. ALL OF THEM ARE DESIGNED TO HELP THE OFFICER PUT YOU IN JAIL AND CONVICT YOU OF DUI. DO NOT ANSWER ANY OF THESE QUESTIONS. You are not required to answer these sorts of questions. Be polite but do not answer these sorts of questions.
Field Sobriety Tests – Just Say “No Thank You.”
Of all the weapons available to police to convict you of DUI, the single most devastating is the standardized field sobriety test. Police are trained to conduct standardized field sobriety tests (SFST) to help them determine whether you are driving while impaired.
The three tests commonly called SFST’s are:
- Horizontal Haze Nystagmus (HGN)
- Walk and Turn
- One-Leg Stand
What the police write in their reports are their subjective observations of your performance on these SFST’s. These “articulable facts” will be used against you in a trial. After writing and reviewing hundreds of police reports, there is almost no circumstance where it is to your advantage to take the SFST’s. Trust us, you will NOT “pass” these tests.
The single most effective way to avoid “failing” the SFST’s is to not take them. You are not required to take any of these tests. The officer will not tell you that you may refuse to take the SFST’s. You should not take any of these tests. Be polite and tell the officer “No Thank You.”
Preliminary Breath Test (pbt) – Just Say “No Thank You.”
Police are routinely using a portable breath testing device known as a preliminary breath test or “PBT” to determine whether or not a motorist is under the influence of alcohol. In Rhode Island, the numeric result of a PBT is not admissible to prove a motorist’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). However, the result of a PBT is admissible to prove that the officer had probable cause to arrest.
Like other field tests, PBT’s are used at the scene which means that the officer carries it with him or her. Police often do not regularly check the device for proper calibration. Police also often ignore the manufacturer’s suggested instructions for deploying a PBT in the field.
PBT’s are mechanical devices subject to failure for a variety of reasons. Be polite and tell the officer “No Thank You.”
When confronted with the police officer at your window, here’s what we suggest you do:
- Be polite by using a lot of “Sir” or “Mam.”
- Refuse to answer any questions or to take any tests (“No thank you, sir” works well.).
- Don’t talk too much (the more you say, the more you will later read about in the police report).
- If you have sunglasses or prescription glasses, wear them. If the officer wants you to remove them, do not fight him but do not remove them yourself and do not give the officer consent to remove them.).
- NEVER GIVE CONSENT TO THE POLICE TO SEARCH ANYTHING!
- Ask if you are under arrest. If the officer tells you “No,” ask if you are free to leave. When the officer tells you are not free to leave, ask him why you cannot leave if you are not under arrest. If the officer tells you that you are not free to leave because he is going to issue a traffic citation, ask him nicely to issue the citation so you may leave. If the officer tells you he is investigating the possibility of DUI or any other criminal investigation, ADVISE HIM THAT YOU DO NOT INTEND TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS OR PERFORM ANY TESTS WITHOUT YOUR ATTORNEY PRESENT.
- If the officer suggests that no attorneys are available at the time you are stopped, tell him that your attorneys are available and ask for permission to call our office at 401-272-4001. Our 24-hour answering service will put your call through to our office.
You Only Get One Call – Make It Count!
When police arrest you for suspicion of DUI, you are entitled to a confidential telephone call for the purposes of securing an attorney to assist you with your decision whether to submit to a breathalyzer test or to refuse a breathalyzer test. Make that one call count by calling our office, 24-hours/day, at 401-272-4001.
Each year, the Rhode Island Legislature toughens the DUI laws. Recently, the Legislature made a second offense breathalyzer refusal a crime. Unlike years past, it might be unwise for you to refuse to take a breathalyzer test. To make the proper decision, you need the assistance of a competent and experienced DUI lawyer BEFORE you talk to police.
Getting arrested for DUI and/or Refusing to Submit to a Chemical Test does not mean you have to lose your license or pay increased insurance rates. Call today to find out how we can help you keep your license.
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