You’re driving along minding your own business. All of a sudden, you see flashing lights in your rear view mirror. The police want to investigate you. You’re wondering what to do when pulled over for a DUI.
The first step is to pull your vehicle over. Even if you’re a drunk driver or if you have an outstanding warrant, your best bet is to stop your vehicle. If you don’t, you can be charged with fleeing an officer or obstruction of justice. This charge is far worse than facing a drunk driving charge.
Pull over your vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so. Try to pull over in a lit area. You can turn on your hazard flashers to indicate that you’ve seen the police lights.
Try to stay calm. Don’t put your hands in your pockets or reach for the glove compartment. If it’s dark, you can turn on the inside lights in your car. The officer is going to ask to see your operator’s license and possibly your insurance, so you can start to look for that information. Make sure you tell the officer before you reach in the center console or the glove box.
Don’t answer questions
When you’re pulled over for a DUI, you have to provide law enforcement with your license and in some states, your vehicle insurance. That’s it. If the officer asks you where you’re coming from, you don’t have to answer. If they ask you how much you’ve had to drink, don’t answer the question.
Tell the officer that you politely decline to answer their questions. The police officer probably isn’t going to like this answer. Calmly tell them that you know your constitutional rights and that you’re not going to answer questions.
But follow directions
When you’re stopped for a DUI, you don’t have to talk to the police, but you do have to follow directions. If the police ask you to step out of your vehicle, do it. If they ask you to turn off your vehicle, do it.
The police might ask you to perform field sobriety tests. In this case, it’s best to cooperate. If the police have enough suspicion to ask you to perform field sobriety tests, they probably have enough suspicion to lawfully arrest you.
If you don’t do the field sobriety tests, you can bet that law enforcement will use it against you in court. However, many officers don’t property administer field sobriety tests. Officers are supposed to use only a few, standardized field sobriety tests.
Many officers blatantly disregard this and they think they know better. Instead, they come up with their own tests that aren’t based in science. They might ask you to say your ABCs or tell you whether Mickey Mouse is a dog or a cat. Your answers to these questions have no scientific basis in answering the question of whether or not you’re too intoxicated to drive.
Your attorney knows all of this, and they can evaluate your case to see if law enforcement followed standardized field sobriety tests. If they didn’t, your attorney can have a lot of fun telling the jury what the officers did wrong when you were pulled over for a DUI. For now, just do the tests. What to do when you are stopped for drunk driving is to do what you’re told without answering any questions.
After the fact, your attorney can help you sort out if law enforcement violated your constitutional rights when you were stopped for a DUI. They can determine if the police stopped your vehicle without probable cause. They can help you argue that law enforcement didn’t have reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigation.
When you’re initially stopped however, it’s best to follow police instructions. Don’t answer police questions, but if they ask you to perform field sobriety tests or take a breath test, your best bet is to do it. Your attorney can help you after the fact, but you don’t want to face additional charges by fighting with law enforcement.
If you have a camera, you’re welcome to record your encounter with the police. The police might not appreciate this, but it’s your right. If law enforcement violates your constitutional rights by taking your phone or even initiating physical contact with you, they might end up with their own criminal charges or the court might suppress evidence against you.
Cooperate with the officer
If you fight with the law enforcement officer, you might find yourself charged with an additional crime. This is a far more serious charge than a first drunk driving offense. In most jurisdictions, refusing to obey a law enforcement officer’s lawful command is a felony.
When the police say that they’re going to arrest you, just let them do it. You have nothing to gain by trying to resist. Even if your arrest is unfair, do what you’re told and then contact your attorney.
Take the chemical test
The police might ask you to take a PBT by the side of the road. You can refuse, but it might be an additional civil infraction or even a misdemeanor. In most cases, your best bet is to take the PBT. Many jurisdictions don’t allow law enforcement to enter a PBT into evidence at trial. It’s only the citizen who can raise the issue of the PBT if it helps their defense.
After you’re arrested, what to do when pulled over for a DUI moves to the police station. The arresting officer might ask you to take a breath test. This one is a no brainer: take the chemical test. What to do when you are stopped and asked to take a breathalyzer, intoxilyzer or datamaster test is very simple. The answer is that you always take the chemical test.
The reason for this is that all jurisdictions have what are called implied consent rules. By driving your vehicle on a public road, you’ve consented to take a breath test if you’re arrested for drunk driving. If you don’t take the chemical test, the result is an administrative revocation for your driver’s license. Sometimes, this revocation can be for a year.
This revocation stands even if you’re not charged with or convicted of drunk driving. Quite frankly, you have nothing to gain by refusing to take the chemical test. A breath test refusal is hard to appeal.
What’s worse, law enforcement can simply request a search warrant to draw your blood. That means a trip to the hospital, needles and even restraints if you refuse to cooperate. Just take the chemical test.
Request an independent test
In many states, you have a right to an independent test if you’re arrested for drunk driving. After the officers give you the breath test, you have a right to a chemical test of your choosing. This can be a blood, breath or urine test. In many jurisdictions, the police even have to drive you to the hospital or the testing agency of your choice to get the independent test.
If the police don’t do this, the court might throw out evidence against you or even tell the jury that the police violated your rights. If you don’t know where to start, ask for a phone book and call local alcohol testing agencies or hospitals until someone agrees to do a test. Then politely ask law enforcement to take you for the test. Even if they say no, you’ve already started preparing your defense.
Call an attorney right away
When you’re stopped for a DUI, contact a local attorney right away. Your attorney can go to work immediately to demand that law enforcement preserve evidence. They can also help you address your bond conditions to make sure that you can continue to work while your case pends in the court. Your attorney can prepare a motion to suppress evidence if the police violated your constitutional rights. They can help you make a game plan to exercise your rights and defend yourself to the fullest extent of the law.
How Much Jail Time Do You Get For A DUI or DWI?
A drunk driving offense is a very serious charge. In the United States, as many as forty percent of traffic deaths are alcohol related. That means that the justice system takes drunk driving offenses seriously.
Possible penalties for a drunk driving offense include punishment, fines and treatment. The court may impose punishment so that a person can pay their debt to society. A person might also have to pay fines because their actions involved law enforcement resources.
In addition to these penalties, a person might have to get treatment. They might be monitored for alcohol use, and they might have to obtain counseling or other substance-abuse treatment. They might have to perform community service.
What is drunk driving?
In most states, the legal limit is a .08. That means if your alcohol content is a .08 or more per 210 liters of breath, you can automatically face a conviction and sentence for DUI. In Utah, the legal limit is even lower. If your alcohol levels are a .05 or higher, you can automatically face a drunk driving charge and DUI jail time.
All fifty states also have intoxicated driving offenses, too. That means that even if your alcohol levels are below the legal limit, you can still face DUI jail time and a criminal conviction if alcohol influenced your ability to drive. This applies regardless of your alcohol level.
You often face the same DUI jail time whether you’re convicted of an unlawful blood alcohol level or alcohol influenced your driving. Sometimes you can face a slightly reduced charge if alcohol impaired your ability to drive. How much jail time do you get depends on the exact conviction and the surrounding circumstances.
In the last decade, many states have passed laws enhancing penalties in cases of high blood alcohol levels. If your blood alcohol level is very high, you might face up to six months in jail instead of three months even for a first offense. The reason for these enhancements is that the law presumes that individuals with very high alcohol levels are more likely to have a substance abuse problem.
Commercial drivers can also face enhanced charges. The penalties for a drunk driver are much more steep when the driver has a commercial driver’s license. Jail time is more likely, and your driver’s commercial license may be on the line.
What about jail time?
One of the biggest questions that people ask when they’re facing a drunk driving charge is how much jail time do you get for a DUI or DWI. They want to know do you go to jail for a DUI and what kind of sentence for DUI to expect. No two cases are alike, but there are typical sentences for certain offenses and circumstances.
How much jail time is typical?
For a first drunk driving offense where there’s nothing unique about the case, jail time typically ranges from nothing to a handful of days. There must be no car crash, no injuries, no property damage and no other unusual circumstances. It’s usually important that you cooperated with the officer during the investigation.
If you’re wondering do you go to jail for a DUI, the answer is much more likely to be yes if you’re facing a second-offense charge. Many states have mandatory minimum sentences, and some judges always give a minimum term in jail. You can expect to spend a month or more in jail for a second offense.
Third and subsequent offenses
If it’s your third or subsequent drunk driving offense, the answer to do you go to jail for a DUI is almost always yes. In that case, your sentence for DUI likely includes several months or years of DUI jail time. How much jail time do you get for a DUI or DWI is likely measured by months, if not years. You might work with an attorney to answer do you go to jail for a DUI, rather than going to a prison.
In most cases, a sentence for DUI includes probation. While you’re on probation, you’re ordered not to drink alcohol. You’ll likely have to take alcohol tests. How much jail time do you get for a DUI or DWI increases if you violate your probation.
If you’re under twenty-one
There are different charges for people under the age of twenty-one. Many states have zero tolerance laws that punish driving with any alcohol level if the driver is under twenty-one. Penalties are often similar to an offense for a first drunk driving.
Work release and community corrections
In some cases, the state allows you to go to work while you serve time in jail. They let you go to your job each day and then come back to jail while you’re not at work. Some locations call this work release. Other jurisdictions might let you terminate your jail sentence early in exchange for intense monitoring outside of a jail cell.
There are a few different reasons that DUI jail time might include work release. The state wants you to be able to work to pay fines. You might have to pay a portion of your earnings to the jail for your room and board. How much jail time do you get for a DUI or DWI depends on the work release policies of each local jail. It’s important to work with a skilled local attorney to find out if your sentence for DUI can include a work release.
Other possible penalties
Another serious penalty to consider when you’re facing a sentence for DUI or DWI is a driver’s license suspension. Most states have two possible forms of driver’s license sanctions for a drunk driving conviction. The first penalty is a mandatory license suspension for a period of time. The period of time for this suspension can vary. For a first offense, it typically ranges from thirty to ninety days. The suspension is mandatory, and it’s not something that a judge can waive even if they think it’s appropriate.
Usually, if you face a second or subsequent suspension, the penalties can get much worse. You can face a suspension of one year, five years, ten years or even an indefinite suspension, depending on your state. It’s then up to you to prove to the state that you’re fit to drive a motor vehicle.
Breath test revocations
You can also face a license suspension for a breath test refusal. In most cases, if you’re arrested for drunk driving, law enforcement asks you to take a breath test. There are penalties if you refuse. This is the case even if you’re not convicted of drunk driving. It’s not uncommon for the administrative revocation to last at least a year with reinstatement fees.
While you can challenge an administrative revocation for a breath test refusal, the window to request a hearing is very short. In some cases, you have as little as fifteen days to get your request for the hearing to the appropriate state agency. It’s important that you contact an attorney to work quickly on your case.
There are things that you can do
If you’re wondering if your sentence for DUI includes DUI jail time, there are things that you can do in order to put your case in a better light when it comes to do you go to jail for a DUI. Working with a local attorney that knows the local laws and the courts can help you present your case in the best possible light. They can help you explore all of your possible defenses and take advantage of any diversion or drug court programs that may be available to you.
How much jail time do you get for a DUI or DWI depends on your exact case. A local attorney can help you evaluate your case to see if law enforcement violated your constitutional rights and help you explore do you go to jail for a DUI. To answer the question how much jail time do you get for a DUI or DWI, talk with a local attorney about what to expect in your case.