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Your Rights When You are Pulled Over for a DUI

Haskett Williams Monaghan Attorneys at Law Oct. 12, 2023

Even though DUIs are somewhat common, that’s never a reason to not take the charges seriously. The penalties for a DUI conviction are often more severe and far-reaching than many people assume, and it’s always in your best interest to work with a qualified criminal defense attorney to ensure your rights are protected. However, what can be even more helpful is to educate yourself before you find yourself in a situation like this. If you’re curious and want to know, “What are my rights when being pulled over for a DUI?” follow along for five key rights everyone should know. 

It is important to note that relying on a criminal defense attorney is vital to get the best possible results. For DUI help in Bend, Oregon, including Redmond, Sun River, Prineville, and Sisters, give us a call at the Haskett Williams Monaghan Attorneys at Law for strong legal representation. 

You Have the Right to Not Incriminate Yourself

Under the protections of the Fifth Amendment, you do not have to make any statements when stopped by a police officer that could incriminate you, and this includes having the right to refuse answering the officer’s questions. This is quite possibly the most important point for people to understand, yet there are some qualifications that should be noted.  

  • No matter what, you should always be respectful and courteous to the officer. Use a calm voice and never argue. 

  • You are required to give the officer required documentation such as your license, insurance information, and registration but you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) offer additional information.  

  • You can tell the officer that you’ve been advised not to answer any questions but be polite about it. In other words, you don’t have to answer questions such as where you were, where you are going, who you were with, or how many drinks you’ve had.  

You Have the Right Against Unlawful Search and Seizure

Another important amendment, this time the Fourth, protects you from illegal searches and seizures. In a situation where an officer has pulled you over on a suspected DUI, they may ask if they can look in your car as part of their line of questions. You should always say no to this. By law, the officer would need to have probable cause that they would find incriminating evidence, such as they saw you hiding something in your car or they smell alcohol in your motor vehicle.  

If the officer performs a search of your car or your person without your permission and without probable cause, anything they find can be found inadmissible in court. However, an officer is permitted to look through your car windows and if they see anything in plain sight (like an open bottle of alcohol), they can use this as evidence or as the basis for probable cause. 

You Have a Right to Refuse to Take Field Sobriety Tests

It’s common for an officer to ask you to step out of the vehicle and perform one or more field sobriety tests, such as the horizontal-gaze-nystagmus (HGN), walk-and-turn, or the one-leg-stand test. You do not have to comply with this request. These tests have been shown in numerous cases to be unreliable indicators of your level of impairment and can complicate your defense if you agree to them. That said, you are required to take a chemical test at the police station and if you refuse you will face penalties. 

You Have the Right to Refuse the Preliminary or Portable Breath Test

Under state law, all drivers have implicitly agreed to take a chemical test when under suspicion of impaired driving. These chemical tests are often administered at the police station after you’ve been arrested and detained, but they are not the same as the portable breath test that many officers carry in their car. You are allowed to refuse a preliminary breath test on the side of the road, but not one at the police station. 

You Have a Right to Contact an Attorney

The Sixth Amendment gives you the right to legal counsel, even if you can’t afford to hire one on your own. You will always be better off by contacting an attorney as soon as possible when arrested for a DUI. Your lawyer can advise you on your rights, guide you on what and what not to say, and advocate on your behalf throughout the entire process.  

Also, if your case goes to trial, they can help you formulate a strong defense that anticipates the arguments coming from the prosecution with the goal of minimizing any potential consequences or getting your charges dropped altogether.  

Contact Us for Legal Support

Getting arrested for a DUI can be a scary and complicated event, but it’s not one that you have to go through alone. If you’d like to sit down with an experienced attorney to discuss your options, contact us at the Haskett Williams Monaghan Attorneys at Law in Bend, Oregon, for the legal guidance you need.