How to Avoid a DUI Conviction

SVB Foreword:
Because I have an extreme vetting process when it comes to whom I allow to be my friends, almost 50% of those in my inner circle have a DUI. It's almost so commonplace that we speak about it as if it were just something we did this weekend. "Went shopping at Santana Row, ate Sushi at Blowfish, got a DUI, woke up in jail with a hangover, and watched football all day on Sunday. What did you do?" My cousin's girlfriend, who is a DUI lawyer, wrote this and I was shocked at all the rights we actually have! Normally, when I get pulled over, I immediately throw the keys outside, exit the vehicle with my hands in the air, insert the needles from the taser gun into my chest and hand the other end to the officer to makes things easier for him. Welp, now I know!


We all know that the best way to avoid a DUI conviction is to not drink and drive. But we also live in a social age where alcohol is an inevitable part of dinners, parties, and after-work events. While we certainly don’t condone drinking and driving, we can offer some practical advice to avoiding a DUI conviction should you find yourself in this situation.

1. Don’t give police officers ANY reason to pull you over. That includes dark tints, loud music, driving with your headlights off, talking on your cell phone, not having your seat belt on, or breaking any other traffic rule. This applies to you AND your passengers. An officer can pull you over if one of your passengers isn’t buckled in or has his or her body hanging out of the window. Don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself, follow the rules of the road, and make sure your passengers are well behaved.

2. Know your rights and exercise them. As a rule of thumb, don’t give police officers more evidence to use against you, if you can exercise the right not to. Why give them evidence that could be used against you when you don’t have to? Your statements may be taken out of context, your poor performance on field sobriety tests may be exaggerated, and your breath test result may not be accurate. So why risk it?
• You DO NOT have to answer any of the officer’s questions. You don't have to tell the officer where you’re coming from, if you had anything to drink, what you had to drink, etc.
• You DO NOT have to take any field sobriety tests. You don't need to take the eye test, or any other test they ask you to take.
• If you’re over 21 years old and you’re not on probation for a prior DUI conviction, you DO NOT have to take the handheld breath test at the scene. 
• All these things at the scene are VOLUNTARY. The tricky thing is, police officers won’t tell you that these things are voluntary, and they’ll get upset if you don’t do what they ask. But that doesn’t change the fact that these things are voluntary so stand your ground.
• The ONLY thing that’s you're required to do is take the blood or breath test you're asked to take at the station.

3. Be polite and conscious of your behavior. Being rude, defensive, or talking too much can never help you, but it sure can hurt you.
 • If you’re rude, defense, or obnoxious, you’ll blow any chance you have at leniency and the officer may even make it a point to make you pay for what you did. The officer will also remember you and the details of your investigation, making him an excellent witness for the prosecution.
• Many police cars are now equipped with video cameras that record your driving on the road and the DUI investigation that follows. Many police officers have microphones in their uniforms that record the conversations you have with him or her. So be polite, cooperative, and conscious of your behavior because if there’s video, the prosecutor will see it and if your case goes to trial, the judge and jury will see it. Trust me, being an ass will make the prosecutor and the jury dislike you. But on the flip side, if you behave in a manner that supports your position that the officer was mistaken about your sobriety, it can be helpful in defending your case.

4. If you can, try gathering evidence that could potentially help you. 
 • Try to find and gather evidence to support your position that the officer was mistaken about your sobriety. Get the names and contact information of witnesses who saw how many drinks you had that night or were present during your investigation. If possible, get the information of people who have no relation to you and therefore, have no reason to lie.
• Again, be conscious of the way you behave because it might be recorded. As a rule, try not to behave the way you normally do if you think that kind of behavior could be mistaken for being under the influence. If you naturally slur when you speak, try to speak as articulately as possible so you’re not mistaken for being under the influence. If you normally walk in an unsteady manner due to a physical injury, try to walk as steady as you can. If you usually slouch and doze off in the car, try to sit upright and stay awake because they can have cameras in the backseat.
• When you’re given the opportunity to make a phone call, consider calling yourself and leaving yourself a voicemail. If your speech is clear and articulate and not “slow and slurred” as your police report says, it could be used to help you.

5. Decide the best course of action for you.
• When a police officer pulls you over and smells alcohol, the officer has already made up his or her mind that you were driving under the influence. All they’re doing is gathering evidence to support their conclusion. Even if you don’t give them the evidence they’re looking for, you'll get arrested. But if you do everything the officer asks you to do, you would’ve given them all this evidence to use against you. So think about your circumstances, the tips discussed here, and decide what the best course of action is for you.
• These tips are designed to inform you of your rights and to encourage you to consider exercising them. You’re not required to follow them and doing so won’t guarantee that you’ll win your case. But keeping them in mind could certainly help, so SHARE THIS WITH YOUR FRIENDS.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE LAW OFFICE OF CINDY PARK. For more DUI-related tips and information, check out http://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaDUI.

Btw, this may only pertain to LA. As a very unaccomplished journalist, I tend not to do any background research or get confirmation from a second source. Happy drivings!


Sincerely,
KL
SVB

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