College Park DUI Traffic Stops
College Park officers are looking for a good cause to stop a driver. What would be the probable cause to stop a vehicle? It would be a violation of transportation articles; failing to stop at the stop sign, going through a red light, speeding, erratic driving between lanes, changing lanes without signaling, slowing down and speeding up, or anything that exhibits that a driver is literally violating the transportation article.
If an officer believes a person may be in danger or may be ill because of the erratic style of driving, they will stop the driver and check on their well-being. A College Park DUI lawyer can help a driver better understand the implications of a DUI and assist them in diminishing the impact of their case on their day-to-day life.
Typical College Park DUI Traffic Stop Process
A typical DUI begins when the officer puts on their lights, pulls a person over and approaches the vehicle asking for both license and registration. Upon doing so, they come in direct contact with the driver. Most officers say that they approached the vehicle and upon making first contact with the defendant immediately noticed an odor of alcohol that is strong, moderate, or subtle. That clue is enough for them to proceed in asking further questions.
They make immediate observations with regards to the person’s eyes being bloodshot and watery; if speech is slurred, stammered and delayed; and if the person is not making direct eye contact or their response to questions is delayed.
Gauging Driver’s Appearance and Behavior
They will then check the physical appearance of the driver and assess both their cognitive and physical reactions to questions or tasks, which is what they are taught and what the officers always say is , “…in their training knowledge and experience.” They state that those indicators are enough to ask the driver to step out of the vehicle to assess if the odor of alcohol was coming from the driver, that the emanating breath still smells like alcohol.
Chances are that if the odor comes from the person ‘s breath when outside the vehicle when they have been out in the air for even a few moments, they will proceed with their evaluation and suspicion of a DUI/DWI.
Talking is the number one enemy. Most people continually talk or have conversations with an officer and inevitably say something that can be used against them. The best course of action is for a person to hand the officer their license and registration and say nothing. Not answer questions at all.
At a DUI stop, a person is detained for suspected use of alcohol or drugs in the concert of driving a vehicle and the officer will investigate that at the immediate time. The person’s rights are that they can refuse Field Sobriety Tests. They can refuse any breath or blood tests. They have the right to simply remain silent. They don’t have to say anything at all.
Field Sobriety Tests
The officer will continue to confirm these suspicions through the Standard Field Sobriety Tests, if the driver chooses to submit to these tests. The officer should give the driver detailed instructions as to how this test is conducted and the officer will then observe the driver and rate the driver on their success in completing those tests. If the person doesn’t complete them perfectly or did not do them well and the officer feels that is substantial enough to hold the driver, they can take the driver into custody and take him or her to the station or barrack to submit to a breath or blood test.
The person can refuse to submit to the breath and blood test. That is another option for them should they choose to substantiate their case with an actual BAC finding which could be used to prosecute them in court.
What a College Park Police Officer Will Ask
The first questions an officer will ask are, “Have you been drinking? Where have you been drinking? How much have you been drinking?” Those are usually the most popular questions. An officer may also search the driver’s vehicle in a traffic stop, but a person does not need to consent to the search of their vehicle during a traffic stop.
The officers may say that they see something in plain sight. Sometimes, if the vehicle is being towed or removed from the streets, the officer could say they did an inventory of the vehicle and found evidence of an empty bottle or beer cans, or found drugs or paraphernalia in the vehicle. If it is in plain sight and they can substantiate their claim in a believable manner, it can be used in court.
If it is something that was found in the normal course of an inventory, it may be used. But officers are well aware that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t truly protect someone while they are in their vehicle. There are ways that evidence can be introduced. There are ways that good defense attorneys would know how to suppress that evidence.
DUID: Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
Drug related DUIs are different from alcohol because there generally isn’t an overwhelming odor present. There is an odor associated with the use of alcohol but not with most drugs, a prescription medication or an over the counter medication. There is no odor of heroin or cocaine. The exception is marijuana; it is the only drug that has an truly distinct odor. The presence of a CDS in someone’s system can only be substantiated by a blood test.
There are officers who are labeled as Drug Recognition Experts or DREs. They are trained to observe a person by utilizing a specific twelve step test in order to determine the presence of drugs. When the test is completed, they may be of the opinion that the person has drugs in their system.
The officers are trained, but they are not medical experts or doctors. They never went to medical school and they are giving their opinion. That is a very difficult opinion to prove in court. They only have a book that tells them what to do. Doctors go through specific training and years and years of work to be able to say what they say as medical professionals. An officer doesn’t get that training.
Speaking to a DUI Lawyer in College Park
A driver can certainly ask to speak to a College Park DUI lawyer during a DUI stop but it is not reasonable for a lawyer to be able to respond immediately. Also considering that most DUIs occur late at night, it is not likely that an attorney will be in their office or available immediately. DUIs are very time sensitive, so a person does not have an immediate right to an attorney when they are stopped.
Know Your Rights
You have the right to remain silent and you have the right to refuse any and all testing. The person has a right to get counsel. It is a serious right and should be exercised. The person should be quick to get an attorney. It gives the attorney the opportunity to truly get into the person’s case with great detail. Usually in that first week, the events are very fresh in the person’s mind and they remember in greater detail than a month or two months later.
It is legal that a person does not have to be Mirandized at a DUI stop. The Supreme Court relaxed the rules regarding Miranda over the years. Most people are well aware of their right to remain silent and that anything that they say can and will be used against them in the court of law. Because you are not legally required to be read your Miranda rights, it is crucial to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible to minimize damages.