If you are stopped while driving and have had a couple of drinks, remember that my business cards have instructions printed on the back. My card explains to the officer that you are going to comply with his requests, but that you are not going to do anything that isn’t legally required. The instructions are as follows:
Stopped by Police
- I do not admit to drinking and I assert my right to counsel and my right to remain silent. I will not make a statement or answer any questions.
- I will not submit to any field sobriety tests or a PBT. If you do not have probable cause to arrest me, I wish to leave now.
- I do not consent to any search or sobriety test; nor do I wish to talk to you or answer your questions.
- I will submit to a breath/blood test at the police station.
- I wish to speak with my attorney immediately: 360.464.3591. If he cannot be reached, I wish to speak to a public defender.
That means that if the office starts asking you questions like: “Do you know why I stopped you?” or “Have you been drinking tonight?” You do not have to answer these questions. Always be polite, but it is always ok to say “My attorney has told me not to answer any questions or make any statements if stopped or detained.”
Politely decline to do any field sobriety tests. A simple “no thank you” will do. These are voluntary tests that the officer will want you to perform in order to gather evidence against you. The most commonly applied tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, One Leg Stand, Walk and Turn, and the Portable Breath Test or “PBT”. Law enforcement will often ask if its ok to check your eyes, or “make sure you are ok to drive”; it is not ok. If the officer is asking you to take a test prior to arrest, you can refuse to do them.
But Defendants should usually take the breath test offered at the police station because the penalties associated with DUI and license suspensions are weighted so that they are more severe if you refuse to take the test at the station.
Probable Cause to Stop and Probable Cause to Arrest
Before ever pulling you over, a police officer will want to witness your driving, and report back to the court if you were weaving, or speeding or driving in some other unsafe manner.
Once you are pulled over, the officer will be watching you like a hawk. Any delay in having your license and registration ready could be reported as a "fumbling for a driver's license."
If you have been seated in your car while driving for awhile, and hold onto the car door while getting out, the officer may report that you needed to lean on the door for support because you appeared "unsteady" on your feet. The officer will likely shine a light into your eyes and report that your eyes appeared "bloodshot and watery."
These elements of a police report are quite common, and standard-fare in a typical DUI police report. Baldwin Legal Group has handled hundreds of DUI cases and are well versed in cross-examining police officers to blunt the impact of such testimony.
Challenging the Evidence in a DUI Case
Even if you have "failed" a Breathalyzer test, there are ways to fight a DUI charge in court. There are regulations with which the police must comply before administering a Breathalyzer test. Baldwin Legal Group attorneys have researched and thoroughly understand those requirements and can advise you regarding the validity of the test that you took. We have successfully filed motions to suppress Breathalyzer test results on behalf of our clients. We have also successfully challenged the probable cause for the motor vehicle stops themselves, via motions to suppress and dismiss the DUI cases.
While each case is different and no attorney can guarantee any particular result for a client, our attorneys have the proper experience to handle every aspect of DUI defense. We regularly take DUI cases to trial when necessary to secure "not guilty" verdicts for our clients.
Whether the scenario involved an accident, a Breathalyzer test failure and/or incriminating statements made to law enforcement, you should still get the proper advice from an experienced and competent attorney before resolving your DUI case. Our trial skills are unsurpassed when it comes to defending DUI cases.
Bench or Jury Trial
If a defendant pleads not guilty, prosecutors and defense attorneys prepare for a trial. Investigators on both sides collect and examine evidence, interview witnesses and prepare documents. A defendant has a right to a jury trial, but some people waive that right. In those cases, they will go before a judge rather than a jury, this is called a bench trial. In Washington, the state must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The state and the defendant each present their cases and the judge or jury reach a final verdict. If the state does not meet its burden of proof, the judge or jury will enter a verdict of not guilty.
Washington state law sets sentencing guidelines. Penalties may include fines, probation, restitution and time in jail or prison. The convicted may also lose certain rights, such as the right to vote or bear arms. Some defendants may be restricted from traveling, drinking alcohol or approaching or contacting particular people.