It’s a problem common to all law-abiding citizens: When we are pulled over by a police officer, especially at night, we become nervous. We attempt to act natural by engaging the officer in conversation, attempting to convince him or her that we are not engaged in any criminal activity and the officer’s suspicions to the contrary are not warranted. But, if we are later arrested for DUI, some of the things we may have said to the officer – even if we said them just to be polite or because we were nervous – can come back to haunt us.
These Statements Will Ruin Your DUI Defense
The following three statements drivers routinely make during a DUI investigation are almost always disastrous for the driver’s legal defense team. While this is not to say that making one of the following statements guarantees a DUI conviction, it is very difficult for a DUI defense attorney – especially an inexperienced one – to overcome the negative connotations and inferences these statements allow. If at all possible, do not make any of the following statements during a DUI investigation:“I’ve Had x Amount of Drinks Tonight.” One of the most common answers to law enforcement’s question, “How many drinks have you had tonight?” is “Two.” But the truth is it does not matter what number of drinks you tell the officer you had – even admitting to consuming one alcoholic drink is enough of a “clue” of intoxication to enable the officer to continue his or her DUI investigation. While you should not lie to an officer – do not say you haven’t had any alcoholic drinks if you have – you do not need to admit to having consumed alcoholic beverages.
- “I Know I Shouldn’t Be Driving.” It is the officer’s job – not yours – to accumulate the evidence necessary to support his or her belief that you are too intoxicated or impaired to drive. Likewise, it is the prosecutor’s job to convict you of driving when you are too impaired to do so. There is no reason for you to make either the officer’s or prosecutor’s job any easier. Making a statement that you are aware of your level of intoxication does nothing to help your defense but instead almost dooms you to a near-certain conviction.
- “No.” If you are placed under arrest for DUI, be very cautious about refusing the law enforcement officer’s request for alcohol and/or drug testing. There are three reasons you should probably complete a blood or breath test requested by the officer: (1) refusing the test may be considered a separate criminal offense; (2) the officer can simply request and obtain a search warrant requiring you to submit to a blood test against your wishes; and (3) prosecutors can use your refusal against you by arguing that the reason you refused the officer’s request to submit to a breath or blood test is because you knew you would be over the legal limit.
What If I Made One of the “Forbidden Statements”?
If you accidentally made one of the above statements, seek experienced legal assistance right away. There may be ways to minimize the negative effect of the statement or, in some cases, have the statement excluded from court entirely. Make sure to be forthcoming with your DUI defense attorney so that he or she is fully informed of the challenge he or she faces in defending your rights and freedom. Do not give up hope: speak with your DUI defense attorney before accepting any plea offer made by the prosecution or admitting guilt. While these three statements will certainly hurt your chances of a positive outcome, that does not mean that you do not deserve a thorough evaluation of your case before deciding on a course of action.