Avoiding the Top 5 Mistakes During a DWI Arrest
A DWI arrest can have significant impacts on your life, resulting in possible jail or prison sentences, loss of driving privileges, loss of your job, etc. Make sure you are aware of what police are seeking during their investigation to avoid these common mistakes that could come back to haunt you.
1. Thinking you can talk your way out of the arrestPolice are trained to seek several clues of impairment, i.e., intoxication, by the way you sound while you speak to them. It is important to minimize the amount of speaking you do as to avoid giving away hints that you might have been drinking.
One way to do this is to invoke your right to remain silent until you have had the opportunity to speak to an attorney.
2. Performing poorly on sobriety testsPolice use sobriety tests as a method of creating evidence, or proof, that you are under the influence or drunk. They are trained to administer certain tests, but generally will stick to an eye test, a couple of balance tests, and possibly counting or alphabet tests in most cases.
These tests are not required, and in Missouri, there is no requirement that you submit to any of the sobriety tests that you are asked to perform.
One way to politely decline the tests is to ask if they are required or if they are optional, and again, ask to speak to your lawyer prior to answering any questions, making any statements, or performing any tests.
3. Not having license and insurance proof ready when officer first approaches your vehiclePolice are trained to take note of any difficulties you exhibit in retrieving documents such as license, registration, insurance, etc. If you have difficulty finding them, or have trouble removing the cards from your wallet or purse, the officer will note that as an indication that you may be intoxicated. In some circumstances, the inability to get your license and insurance might be the first clue the officer notices that prompts further investigation.
The best way to avoid this mistake is to simply have all of your documents ready prior to the officer requesting them.
4. Admitting you're drunkPolice will ask you during the investigation if you have had anything to drink, and are trained to ask if you are under the influence of an alcoholic beverage after the arrest has been made. Prosecutors use those admissions against you in your case.
The best way to avoid this without lying is to invoke your right to remain silent and not answer any questions until you have had an opportunity to speak with your lawyer.
5. Not asking to speak to a lawyerIf you are asked to submit to a chemical test of your breath, blood, urine, saliva, the officer will not tell you that you are also allowed a minimum of 20 minutes to contact a lawyer for advice as to whether or not you will take the test. That means, if asked to submit to any test to determine your BAC, if you ask to speak to a lawyer, by law, the cop has to give you that opportunity.
Cops are not required to inform you of your right to speak to counsel prior to submitting to a breathalyzer, so it isn't surprising that this is the most common mistake I see in all of the cases I handle. As a general rule, if you ever believe you are being investigated for a crime of any type, it is best to speak to a lawyer prior to making statements, or giving any potential evidence to the police.