Question of the Day: How Should I Conduct Myself In a Washington, DC DUI Stop?

In a DUI stop with the police #doLESS, #sayLESS. #LESSisMORE! Provide the officer with your basic information – name, address and credentials such as driver’s license, vehicle registration and insurance – and do not answer* any questions regarding drinking and/or perform field sobriety tests. Politely decline. It’s what police officers tell their family and friends to do. *In asking questions the officer is trying to detect a possible slur or defect in your speech suggesting clues of alcohol impairment. The police is trained to elicit information, make observations and make note of something as simple as being ‘talkative’, ‘crying’, ‘laughing’ or ‘repeated questions’ etc. I telegraph to my audience and I am repeating it here: #doLESS, #sayLESS in a Washington, DC DUI stop with the police – #LESSisMORE!

So you ask: Does that differ from a requirement to take a breathalyzer? Can’t a person lose their license for not taking a breathalyzer? Great questions. The answer is YES to both questions. It differs and you can lose your license automatically in Maryland – almost guaranteed – and DC for four (4) to twelve (12) months simply for refusing the chemical breath test – it could also be urine or blood tests. Many officers in an attempt to ‘punish’ you for exercising your right to refuse the standard field sobriety tests (SFST’s*) will arrest you, probably without sufficient grounds, because you dare refuse a request: it is not a command or order and you CANNOT be compelled to do those tests. Additionally, an officer may arrest and hope you submit to the breath, urine or blood test at the station. This is a different test and IF you refuse your DC or MD driving privileges can or likely will be suspended. IF arrested one will have to make a reasoned and calculated decision between losing driving privileges for the period of time indicated versus giving a sample that could result in a permanent DUI conviction record. There is always a nuance since no two DUI stops are the same. Please call with questions and/or concerns.

*The standard field sobriety tests are: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) – commonly done with a pen, flashlight or similar object – the Walk-and-Turn and the One-Legged-Stand. REFUSE to do them. It is your right and is similar to the Miranda (warning) issue of refusing to answer questions because they may tend to incriminate or provide the police with evidence to use against you in court.

Have a DUI or similar arrest in Washington DC? Call the Law Offices of K. Lawson Wellington today: (202) 486-1186 for a free consultation with a Washington, DC DUI Lawyer.

It is important to contact a Washington, DC DUI defense attorney if you are facing drunk-driving charges in the District of Columbia. A DUI matter can have potential devastating consequences and a skilled DC DUI defense lawyer can make all the difference. If you, or someone you know, need legal assistance with this or a similar matter, call and ask to speak to one of our experienced DC DUI lawyers today: 202.486.1186.

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