Guest Post: How To Avoid a DUI Tips Checklist

Brandon emailed me wanting to give some more tips to help everyone out. As always these are the guest's views, not necessarily mine. - Tom

Guest Post: How To Avoid a DUI Tips Checklist
By: Brandon Leuangpaseuth

Imagine you are leaving a bar after celebrating a good friend’s birthday.

You didn’t plan to stay long or to even drink, but you got caught up in the festivities and had one or two beers mixed with a couple of shots. After waiting a little while, you decide you were sober enough to drive home. You hastily trot outside, start your car, and drive off.

As you are driving down the road, you notice blue and red lights flashing in your rearview mirror. A cold shiver runs down the back of your leg.

What did you do wrong? Were you swerving? Speeding? Do I smell like alcohol?

A million thoughts flood through your head.

As your car pulls to a halt on the side of the road, you can feel the sweat on the palms of your hands as you grip the steering wheel tighter. The cop gets out of his car and after what seems like an eternity, approaches your car window.

Two loud thuds on your car’s glass as the cop signals for you to roll down your window.

You have never been pulled over before…

Not to mention, you are not sure if you over the legal drinking limit. You
definitely cannot lose your driving privileges…

What do you do...?

If you have ever driven with any alcohol in your system, there is always that fear in the back of your head for getting pulled over by a police officer and convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) charge. Putting yourself plus others in danger, losing your license, paying to attend DUI classes, potentially serving community service, increasing insurance costs and hiring an attorney....is a headache of a scenario.

The only surefire way to avoid a DUI is to drive with
absolutely no alcohol in your system. However, if you are pulled over and you have been drinking, here are some tips presented by a DUI attorney in Houston to help you avoid being convicted of a DUI or to lessen the penalty.

DUI Tips Checklist

Again, getting convicted of a DUI us a stressful situation so if you are planning on drinking, ride with a designated driver or use a rideshare application. The low cost of the rideshare far underweights the high price of dealing with a DUI. If you do drive and you have had a couple of drinks, here are some tips to lessen or avoid a DUI.

Before driving...

Make sure if you had a few drinks and you are about to drive, to always chew gum or breath mints and put some eye drops in your eyes. It is imperative to always carry these items in your car in case. The reason why those items are important is that it can prevent a cop from obtaining
probable cause to test you for driving impaired.

Let me explain.

When cops pull you over, they are looking for any signs of impairment. If your breath smells like alcohol or your eyes are red from drinking, you will essentially give the cops a free pass to legally mandate you to tests for alcoholic impairment.

An officer will typically search for impairment signs by observing:
  • bizarre or erratic behavior
  • poor field sobriety tests performance
  • the smell of alcohol
  • bad driving/ blatant swerving
  • slurred speech
  • bloodshot eyes

You want to do your best not to provide the officer any evidence to give them the ‘go-ahead’ to mandate you to test for impairment.

If You Are Stopped...

If you are being stopped, it is important to put yourself in the officer’s shoes. Making the officer’s life easier could go a long way when interacting with them. Some helpful tips that the officer would appreciate are to:

  • Turn on your emergency headlights - Doing this lets the officer know that you know they are pulling you over. This is especially important when you have to drive a long distance to make a safe stop to the side of the road.
  • Pullover to a safe area - When you see an officer pulling you over, it is best to pull over as fast but as safely as possible. Parking lots and well-lit areas are great spots to pull-over to. You do not want to seem like you are making a run for it by driving fast so you would want to drive slowly.
  • Put your hands on the steering wheel - you want the officer to be able to see your hands at all times. You do not want to be scouring your car searching for your license and registration yet, because it can look dangerous or even suspicious.

Remember, it is important to not give the officer any evidence to build a case against your conviction. An officer’s job is to gather enough evidence to obtain probable cause and legal permission to test you for alcoholic impairment.

Here is how you can deny them acquiring evidence:

Respectfully Decline to Answer Questions

First off, the officer will ask you for your driver’s license and registration. Usually, the officer will follow up by asking you a series of seemingly innocuous questions such as:

“Where are you coming from? Do you know why I pulled you over? Did you have any drinks tonight?”

These questions are meant to construct a case against you for your conviction. The last thing you want to do is give the officer evidence to create a case against you! It sounds like common sense...but a lot of people forget or are unaware of the fact that the questions are
optional.

It is best to respectfully use your 5th amendment and decline to answer any questions. Again, it is best to not be rude or impolite. Being courteous will make the whole interaction a lot smoother.

You may think your answers may harmless, but anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law. It is best to politely decline to answer, keep your mouth shut and not risk giving away any evidence.

Politely Refuse Any ‘Tests’
A lot of people are unaware that the tests an officer will ask to administer to you are all voluntary--to an extent.

Here’s what I mean.

You can refuse:
  • The officer’s roadside field sobriety tests such as counting, the balance test, etc
  • The officers follow the finger or pen test
  • The optional portable breathe test

Most people have the logic of, “
well I don’t want to say ‘no’ because the officer will think I am guilty

There is a fallacy in that thinking because if you do any of the sobriety tests, you are giving the officer evidence for your DUI conviction...and more severe punishment.

Not to mention, there are a lot of holes or flaws in the tests that they administer. For one, all the tests such as the balance test and counting test are all based on their own opinions or judgments. This means they are subjective.

Not only do the observations of ‘passing a test’ vary from officer to officer...the field sobriety tests are plain difficult. It may sound easy and unintimidating to imitate movements such as walking toe to heel in a straight line, balancing on one foot or touching, reciting the alphabet backward...but they simply are not.

Don’t believe me?

Go try taking a golf class.

You’ll quickly see that imitating basic movements for the first time is extremely difficult.

The tests would be hard to do
stone-cold sober.

So do yourself a favor and politely decline their tests and let them know that you would not like to submit to any tests.

This goes for the pen and eye tests too. Sure, this test is extremely simple to follow. However, that police officer is probably NOT an ophthalmologist or a trained doctor...so their perceived data will be biased, inaccurate and can lead be used against you int the court of law.

Also, don’t blow in a portable breathalyzer on the side of the road. The roadside breathalyzer test is optional. Think about this:
do you know what the breathalyzer’s results will say?

I can tell you, you don’t know what the machine is going to say or if it will read the same number each time you blow into it. I repeat, do not take the breathalyzer.

Again, politely decline to do any of these tests which results can be misinterpreted and be used against you for a DUI conviction.

Quick Tips

If the officer believes there is enough probable cause that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they will arrest you.

After they arrest you and bring you back to the station, they will ask you to take a breathalyzer or blood test. This test you can NOT refuse. If you do, there will be some severe consequences such as getting your license suspended for a long period of time.

I would recommend that you take the blood test over the breathalyzer test at the station. There are a lot of steps involving humans in conducting a blood test that can leave room for ‘human error’. An experienced DUI attorney can argue for the results being contaminated or inaccurate because of a mistake from a person.

Also, if your license is taken, you have 10 days to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Checklist Recap:
  • Before leaving when driving: eat gum, breath mints and put eye drops in your eyes.
  • If you are stopped: respectfully decline to answer questions
    • Decline to follow the officer’s pen or finger
    • Decline the roadside sobriety test such as counting, balancing, etc.
    • Decline to answer any questions
    • Decline the optional portable breath test
    • You must take the required official breath or blood test at the station
    • You have 10 days to call the DMV if your license was taken.

Here’s to Avoiding DUIs

There you are.
The checklist to help you avoid a DUI.

Driving while impaired is a
common big problem that can put you and other people’s lives in danger. Remember, the surefire way to be safe and avoid a DUI is to drive with absolutely no alcohol in your system. Find a designated driver or use a ridesharing application to save yourself a lot of time and money if you are convicted of drunk driving charges.

If you do get pulled over and you had a few to drink, keep these tips in mind. They can help you avoid a DUI or lessen the consequences. Instead of giving away evidence to be used against you in court, let your DUI attorney fight in court over the fact that you refused to give up your rights.

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