Particularly around Memorial Day and other holidays, and even in the present social climate, people in and around Mobile may be planning to relax and have some fun with friends and family.
For many, this will involve having a few of their favorite alcoholic drinks. Of course, this is perfectly legal behavior. Driving while intoxicated, on the other hand, is not.
Driving while visibly impaired, or with a blood alcohol content of .08, can lead to a criminal conviction for drunk driving in both Alabama and Mississippi.
With a DUI conviction comes a number of consequences, including the possibility jail time, a license suspension, and fines, fees and other costs.
So, it’s no wonder that when people get pulled over after having a drink or two with friends, or get stopped at a checkpoint, they tend to give in to fear and say and do things that do little to help, and that may even hurt, their cases.
Here are some tips on what to do in a scary situation:
Be polite and non-combative
At best, getting mouthy or rude to an officer will not make friends with either the officer of the prosecutor. More likely than not, rude, deceptive or hostile behavior is going to make it into the officer’s written police report.
The prosecutor can, and probably will, use this information to suggest that the person was trying to hide something and may also use it as evidence of drunkenness. In flagrant cases, combative or deceptive behavior can even lead to additional criminal charges.
The right to remain silent applies
As with any other criminal investigation, people detained on suspicion of a DUI have the right to remain silent. This constitutional right means that the police may not force a person to give statements against himself or herself, including by requiring the person to answer incriminating question.
An example of an incriminating question is “Have you been drinking?” or “How many alcoholic beverages did you have in the last 2 hours?” A person does not have to answer these sorts of questions.
On a related point, a person who has been pulled over should be very careful about volunteering statements to the police.
Refusal of field sobriety and portable breath tests
Likewise, drivers should remember that by being on the road, they have only consented to take a certified blood, urine or breath test and not an official fishing expedition to see what sort of incriminating evidence an officer can turn up.
For example, Alabama’s law does not apply to those commonly-used field sobriety tests, like walking in a straight line. The law also does not apply to taking a breath test on the officer’s portable machine.
These additional tests often serve only to build up the state’s case and may even give the officer legal grounds to administer an official test when before no such grounds existed. Someone may respectfully refuse to take these tests.