Tips to Avoid a DUI

Tip #1.  Don't drink and drive! : If you have been drinking, call a taxi or have a friend drive you home.

Tip #2.   If you do Drive, Don't park near the bar!: Police officers or their agents routinely drive through popular bar parking lots and note descriptions of cars in the parking lot and wait for the car to leave, then invent some reason to stop the car.   Never park near the bar!

Tip #3.   Always drive safely.

Most DUI stops are for traffic violations such as speeding, unsafe lane changes, not driving within the lane, illegal turns, etc. Be focused and attentive while driving so that you don't give law enforcement a reason to pull you over!  Drive at the speed limit, not too slow and not too fast. Be sure to turn on your headlights, fasten your seat belts, etc. Do not send text messages, do not use your cell phone, do not play with your car stereo, do not eat while driving, or do anything that will divert your attention from your driving.

Tip #4.   Do not drive though fast food drive-thru restaurants.

Law enforcement works with many fast food restaurants and trains their employees to report potential DUI drivers.  If the fast food restaurant workers believes you are under the influence or smells alcohol, they will call the police. The fast food restaurant workers will use various tactics to detain you, such as “it will take a few minutes to cook your order.. can you pull around and park and we'll bring your food out to your car.” While you are waiting for your food, law enforcement is on the way. And yes, the fast food restaurant took your money too!

Tip #5.   If you have been stopped, DO NOT let the police officer check your eyes and do not agree to take other Field Sobriety Tests.  You don't have to.

If you are suspected of DUI, the police officer will usually first want to check your eyes.  He will ask you to hold your head still and follow his pen or finger with your eyes only. This is called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test which is a Field Sobriety Test.

Nystagmus is the involuntary jerking of the eyes. When the test is administered correctly by the officer and Nystagmus is detected, it can be an indicator that the alcohol is present in the suspected driver's blood.

The problem is that many officers DO NOT administer the test correctly and will often short-cut the test, but yet the officer will write in the arrest report that he/she observed the necessary “clues” supporting an arrest for DUI.  In addition, there are other non-alcohol factors that cause Nytsagmus.

The HGN test is nothing more than a tool for the officer to use to gather evidence that will be used against you. Since the HGN test is a voluntary test, it is your right to elect NOT to participate in the test.  An honest officer cannot write that you failed a test that you elected not to do. Always be polite, but say to the officer “on the advice of my attorney, I elect not to participate in any filed sobriety tests.”

In addition to the HGN test, other Field Sobriety Tests often given by police officers are: finger to nose, hand pat, finger count, say the alphabet backwards, count backwards, one leg stand, walk and turn, and what ever other crazy test the officer can come up with.

Note that only the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, the One Leg Stand test, and the Walk and Turn test are considered Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and have been validated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the International Association of  Chiefs of Police (IACP) and are part of the DWI Detection Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Program.  Any other test has not been validated.

Like the HGN, all Field Sobriety Tests are completely voluntary and you do not have to perform them.  Always be polite, but say to the officer “on the advice of my attorney, I elect not to perform any filed sobriety tests.

Many law enforcement officers will tell you that if you pass the tests you won't be arrested. This is just a ruse by the officer to get you to agree to perform the tests, so don't be fooled.  Whether you perform the field sobriety tests or not, if the officer smells alcohol on your breath, it is very likely that you will be arrested anyway.  So why take the tests to begin with?

Some officers will tell you that if you refuse to take the Field Sobriety Tests, you will go to jail. Do not allow the officer to intimidate you. If you've been drinking, you will likely go to jail anyway; so again, why give the officer evidence that he will use against you?

Some officers will also tell you that if you refuse to take the Field Sobriety Tests, they will tell the court and it will be evidence that you are guilty. Field Sobriety Tests are completely voluntary and there is no law that requires anyone to perform Field Sobriety Tests.

Think about this:  by agreeing to participate in Field Sobriety Tests, you are helping the officer gather evidence and build a case against you. You are giving the officer the opportunity to write in his report   that you “failed” the tests. The tests are subjective and the officer's idea of “passing” is very different than yours. You are better off not giving the officer “evidence” that he will use against you. Again, be polite, but say to the officer “on the advice of my attorney, I elect not to perform any filed sobriety tests.”

Note: If you are on probation for a previous DUI conviction, a term of your probation may require you to submit to Field Sobriety Tests.  Be sure to review your terms of probation if you are currently on probation for a previous DUI conviction and consult an expert DUI defense attorney.

Tip #6.   Politely elect NOT to answer any questions during the DUI investigation, either before or after you are arrested. You must provide the officer with your driver license, registration, and proof of insurance, but other than that REMAIN SILENT. If the officer asks you if you have been drinking alcohol, simply say “on the advice of my attorney, I choose to exercise my 5th amendment right and remain silent.”  The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution gives you, and every citizen, the right to remain silent and not say anything that may incriminate you.

The officer will want to ask you questions regarding where you've been, what you've eaten, how many alcoholic beverages you drank, what were you drinking, when you last slept, etc. By asking these questions the officer is gathering information to make a quick determination of your drinking pattern, and with this information, the officer will determine if he/she should test your blood alcohol level as soon as possible or wait a while until you have fully absorbed the alcohol in your stomach.  In addition, by answering the officer's questions you are helping the officer gather evidence – your statements - that will be used against you in court.  Again, politely say “Officer, I choose to exercise my 5th amendment right and remain silent.”

Tip #7.   If you are age 21 years of age or over, DECLINE to take the Preliminary Alcohol Screen (PAS) Breath  test. After you've been stopped, if the officer suspects that you've been drinking, he/she may ask you to blow into a Preliminary Alcohol Screen Breath (PAS) device, which is a hand held device used to detect alcohol in your breath. This test is voluntary, and officers are required by law to advise you of this, but most officers won't tell you that the PAS test is voluntary.  Many officers will tell you that you must blow into the PAS device. THIS IS FALSE!  (Note:  If you are under 21 years of age, you must agree to take the PAS test.)

Although the implied consent law requires that you submit to a “chemical test” to measure the alcohol concentration in your blood if you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the PAS device is not one of the evidential chemical tests. The PAS device is a “preliminary” breath alcohol screening device designed to determine the presence and  amount of alcohol in your body.  If you agree to take the PAS test you will have to take a second test after you are arrested (breath or blood). The officer uses the PAS device results to determine if you will be arrested for DUI.  PAS devices do not always give accurate results.  If you agree to blow into the PAS device, you are helping the officer gather more evidence that will be used against you in court.

Note: If you are on probation for a previous DUI conviction, a term of your probation may require you to submit to the PAS test.  Be sure to review your   terms of probation if you are on probation for a previous DUI conviction and consult a DUI defense attorney.

Tip #8.  Choose a blood test. If you are arrested for DUI, choose a blood test rather than a breath test. If you choose a breath test, the officer will know the breath test results immediately.    He will then write in his arrest report (having your breath test results in mind).  The officer is now more likely to embellish facts in the report to support his arrest. For instance: the driver was weaving in the lane, the driver had slurred speech, the driver stumbled when he walked, the driver fumbled in his wallet to get his driver license, etc. - all because the officer knows your breath test results before writing his report.

If you choose a blood test, the arresting officer will not know the results of the blood test for weeks. The arrest report will more than likely have been written prior to the blood test results being available. The arresting officer's report will likely be more objective and honest because the officer wrote it without knowing the level of your blood alcohol concentration.

In addition, if you choose a blood test, an expert DUI defense attorney will have the opportunity to analyze the analysis of the blood sample to determine if the blood test results are reliable.  There are many factors that affect the reliability of the blood test results.  Click here for more information regarding the problems with blood alcohol testing.

Be sure to take only one test! Some officers will talk the arrested person into taking a breath and a blood test. That's like having two smoking guns. Take one test only, and take a blood test.  Blow into nothing.

Tip #9. Make sure your tail lights, turn signals, etc. are working properly.

Inspect your car and make sure all lights are working. Also make sure your windows are not unlawfully tinted.  Many times persons are stopped by an officer because a tail light is out or the car has some other problem. The officer then smells alcohol when he walks up to the driver's window and DUI investigation follows. Between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and thereafter, officers on patrol are looking for reasons to stop drivers to possibly get a DUI arrest.

Tip #10.  Always be on your best behavior.

Some police cars are equipped with video cameras and record the stop, the arrest, as well as the car ride to the jail.  In additions, some officers carry digital recorders and record  conversations.  Also many jails have video recorders so you are being recorded while you are being processed. Always be polite.

Tip #11.   Insist on your three completed telephone calls and make a detailed record of all events.

Penal Code § 851.5 entitles an arrested person 3 completed telephone calls. This is your right and therefore you should insist!  Call your cell phone and leave yourself a voice message to record your voice, that way if your speech is not slurred the recording can be used as evidence in your defense. You should also call DUI defense attorney Manuel J. Barba toll free at 1-866-442-2722.

Also remember to make a detailed record of all the events that occurred before being stopped, up to and including being released from custody.  Do so while it is fresh in your mind. This information may be helpful in defending your case.

Tip #12.   Hire an expert DUI defense attorney to represent you. DUI cases are very complex and require specialized knowledge.  DUI defense attorney Manuel J. Barba is a nationally recognized expert in Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.  In addition, attorney Barba is an expert in breath testing as well as blood alcohol analysis.  You need attorney Manuel J. Barba's expertise to defend you.