Your Rights When Pulled Over for a DUI
You may have had a few drinks before driving home one night. You see lights flashing in your rearview mirror, and you react appropriately by pulling over to the side of the road. As the police officer approaches your vehicle, it may feel like there are a million things going through your mind. Are you legally impaired? Are you about to be arrested for driving under the influence? What are your rights in this situation?
Understanding how DUI stops working—and what rights you have when you find yourself in this scenario—is important. At The Handley Law Center, we make it a priority to not only provide strong legal representation to individuals facing DUI charges but also help each client understand their rights and make informed decisions during the legal process. If you have been charged with a DUI in Canadian County, Oklahoma, or the surrounding areas (throughout Custer County, Blaine County, Kingfisher County, and Caddo County, hiring an experienced DUI defense attorney is your best option. Contact our team today to discuss your situation.
You Have a Right to Not Incriminate Yourself
Even if you’ve made a mistake and got behind the wheel after having too much to drink, that does not eliminate your basic rights, whether those rights are granted under Oklahoma law or the U.S. Constitution.
One constitutional right you have is the right against self-incrimination. This right, granted by the 5th Amendment, allows you to remain silent when it comes to providing potentially incriminating information. When you are speaking with a law enforcement officer, it is important to always remain respectful and courteous, and while you should provide the officer with the required information (such as your license, insurance, and vehicle registration), you are not legally required to answer all the officer’s questions.
It is perfectly acceptable—and legal—to inform the officer that you will not be answering their questions until you have spoken to an attorney.
You Have a Right to a Copy of the Police Report
Everything that transpires during your traffic stop should be fully documented in a police report. Having a copy of this report is your legal right, and the information contained in the report may be useful to you and your DUI defense attorney if you are arrested and charged with a DUI. If you are arrested, seek out a copy of the report and provide it to your lawyer to help your case in any available way.
You Have a Right Against Unlawful Search & Seizure
The 4th Amendment of the Constitution provides citizens with protection against their person or property being searched without probable cause. While the specifics of particular situations may not guarantee this protection, there is at least a legal foundation to potentially prevent law enforcement from unlawfully searching you or your vehicle without your consent.
Though law enforcement may indeed engage in search and seizure that is later deemed to be lawful (such as having probable cause due to seeing you hide something in your car or smelling alcohol), it is important to know that you do have this protection.
You Have a Right to Refuse Field Sobriety Tests
You are within your rights to refuse to submit yourself to a field sobriety test. The accuracy of such tests has been a heavily debated subject, and it is a common misconception that you are legally obligated to participate in these tests if law enforcement asks you to do so.
It is important to note, however, that while you do have the right to refuse participation in field sobriety tests, you cannot refuse chemical testing (blood, breath, or urine) without penalties.
You Have a Right to Refuse Preliminary/Portable Breath Tests
A preliminary breath test (sometimes called a portable breath test) is administered by law enforcement officers at the scene by using a small device that is intended to measure your blood alcohol content by your breath. The issue with this test arises from the fact that not all these devices are approved by the state, and there are too many variables that can lead to an erroneous result.
As with the field sobriety test, you are not legally obligated to submit to the preliminary/portable breath test. Again, it is important to understand that this right to refuse without penalty does not extend to the chemical testing administered at the police station.
You Have a Right to Legal Representation
Most importantly, you have the right to strong, professional legal defense. You are innocent until proven guilty. Simply because you have been arrested and charged with a DUI does not mean your case has been determined. Having a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in your corner can provide you with the best chance of reaching the most favorable outcome available to you in your case.
Let a Skilled Attorney Protect Your Rights
Being arrested for a DUI is a serious matter, but it’s not uncommon. According to information compiled by the drunk driving information website Responsibility.org, data from a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study released in 2021 shows there were 9,053 DUI arrests in Oklahoma in 2019. Some of those individuals arrested for DUI may have suffered negative consequences due to not being familiar with their legal rights.
Though law enforcement officers and prosecutors have important jobs to do, it’s not uncommon for mistakes to be made or for the rights of individuals to be violated. When your future is at stake, standing up for your rights becomes a high priority. Knowing what you do—or don’t—have to do when you’re pulled over for a DUI is crucial. If you are facing a DUI charge, reach out to us at The Handley Law Center today for skilled legal representation. We proudly serve the needs of clients in Canadian County, Oklahoma, as well as the surrounding communities throughout Caddo County, Kingfisher County, Blaine County, and Custer County.