Guest Post: Psychological Impact of a DUI Charge

Got a reader submission from John who wanted to talk about the psychological impact of all this - Tom

Psychological Impact of a DUI Charge

A DUI charge can lead to dire legal consequences, but that is not the only concern at the time of arrest. The DUI testing, police questions, license confiscation, and the overall incriminating circumstances can be overwhelming. The situation is most troublesome for young drivers who are first time offenders. They experience a paradox of emotions because there is so much to lose. They crave for a support system, as they do not know how to deal with a criminal allegation. Some offenders make the mistake of misbehaving with the police officers, which further worsens the conditions. It is natural for a person to go through a range of emotional phases while dealing with a DUI charge:

Shock and Denial
Being pulled over by the traffic police is typically an unpleasant surprise. On the top of that, getting handcuffed by a stern officer and being dragged to the police station is nothing less than horrifying. The proceedings seem like a nightmare and you hope to wake up any second. You tell yourself that you did not do anything wrong and want to run free, but find yourself restrained. You are not ready to take responsibility of your actions and face the consequences. You believe that denial will enable you to get past this.

Fear and Fury
Anger gets the best of you when the police treats you like a criminal and disrupts your plans. You clearly never intended to land in jail, thereby you curse your luck. You may yell or hit something in the heat of your desperation and frustration. At the same time, you are also frightened of what is yet to come. You are scared of having to spend the night in jail and no one coming to your rescue. If a family member sees you like this, how will you explain? 

Remorse and Embarrassment
When you realize that you were wrong and cannot undo what has happened, the guilt begins to set in. You regret every action that led you to that moment. You wish you never had a drink or got behind the wheel, but it’s too late. You wonder what your family and peers will have to say once they find out about your criminal offense. You dread the fact that your mug shot shall become public and everyone you know will see it. You cannot stop thinking about the implications of a criminal record on your job or education. 

Despair and Anxiety
When everything is out in the open and you are left helpless, despair takes over. You are sad that you let others down and risked your own future. You become a patient of depression after receiving rejection from the society and losing several privileges you had earlier. You want to go back in time, but things will never be the same. You pledge to never drink or drive again because you cannot bear reliving the recent events. 

Accepting Reality
Time heals wounds, thus you gradually become calm and complacent. You are adhered to the altered lifestyle, so it doesn’t bother you anymore. As you make peace with reality, everything starts shifting back to normal. You can never forget the incident, but you learn to live with it.  

Moving On
You start putting your life back together and strive to make things right. You try to invoke optimism and step forward. You hope to earn back the trust of people who matter the most, and not repeat your mistakes. 

Author Bio
John Adams writes about physiological traumas and personal healing. He encourages readers to fight their fears and overcome the obstacles holding them back. He believes that any person can improve the quality of his or her life by incorporating positivity in every thought and action. He loves to share his insight on life experiences, and contributes on various online platform in the same niche. 

Portable, Cheap, Disposable breathalyzers?

Hey there… It's me. Not a guest post this time. I know updates have been few and far between, but once you get your driving rights back, do your classes, pay your fines… Life is pretty much normal. (Kind of what you wanted to hear, huh?)

So you want to know if you're ok to drive, or if your ignition interlock device (IID) will let you start your car. But you don't want to buy a
BacTrack breathalyzer or anything like that. What do you do?

Well… You have a few options.

The first is the easiest - wait it out. 12 hours after your last drink and you should be able to go… in most cases. If you really tied one on, make it 14 hours. You should definitely be clear after 18, probably. 24 to be safe.

A few bars have breathalyzers in them. Hope that they have a mouthpiece available or let you use a clean straw (the one in your drink is going to be tainted from alcohol) and pay a buck or two and see what the results are.

You can always borrow a friend's… although most people don't have them, or carry them with them.

So what else can you do? How about picking up
some cheap, portable, disposable breath tests? They cost about two bucks each, especially if you buy them in bulk. Put them in your jacket pocket and nobody will know. They look like little vials that are sealed up in plastic (if you're doing other things that come in vials, don't bother, these don't test for that).

Have fun, do whatever, preferably don't drive.

When it's time to take the test, take a break from everyone, go to the bathroom, go outside, whatever… get out your test, it'll look like this…
IMG_3916

Pull it out of the sealed plastic - wait until you're ready to take the test to avoid contamination.
IMG_3917

Then you're going to squeeze really hard in the middle, with the yellow crystals - there's a glass capsule in there, and you've got to break it. It's pretty sturdy! Squeeze hard, the thick plastic will keep you safe from anything of the glass getting into your fingers.

Then follow the arrows and blow into that side of the tube for 12 seconds. Blow hard.


IMG_3918

Your breath will fog up the chamber in the middle, but that's fine. The test will say its tolerance. If it your breath stays under (In this case .02) then the crystals will be yellow. Above, and the crystals will turn a different color.

Here's two that I took - the top is a passed test - my BAC was under .02 (It was 0) and at the bottom, was one after I had a drink and was above .02

IMG_3919

Easy to use. Easy to read.

But how much use are they?

Well, if you're planning to go out drinking and drive your car home (Which if you're reading this you should never do because the consequences suck and you're probably here because you had a DUI and you're on probation) you can blow and take the test and see that you're above the threshold of the test. But you don't know how much above. You don't know if you're .3 or .03. If you wanted to track your BAC you'd have to take your bulk supply of test and test yourself every 15-30 minutes till eventually you "pass".

These are mostly used for "zero tolerance" environments. Drug offenders who get tested and punished if they drink at all. Halfway houses. Angry spouses. It paints a very black and white scenario - whether you've had alcohol or not - but that's about it.

It's not without it's uses, but for somebody surviving a DUI and learning about how their body works with alcohol and trying to better every day… I'd rather go with a
real breathalyzer that gives me the most information possible.

That said, if you find use for them, by all means.





Guest Post: How To Emotionally Recover After Receiving A DUI

Brandon emailed me again wanting to give some perspective on how to emotionally recover from a DUI. Decided it was a good idea to give an additional viewpoint other than mine about how to get through this. - Tom

How To Emotionally Recover After Receiving A DUI

By: Brandon Leuangpaseuth

“Pull over, I need to throw up!”

I quickly jerked the steering wheel to the right lane and my car drifted towards the exit. I exited from the freeway, pulled into the nearby gas station as one of my female friends hunched over and vomited in the trashcan by the gas pump. She spilled her guts outside of the car as I let out a deep sigh of relief.

I searched for a water bottle around the car but as I looked up into the rearview mirror, blue and red lights filled my eyes. My body froze stiff like a board as I stared into the mirror with disbelief...

This did not look good…

The officers stepped outside of their car with their flashlights on and shined them at my female friend whose face was buried in the trash can. Both lights immediately pointed in my direction as my head started spinning and my stomach began churning…

The next thing I know, I was calling my brother to come to bail me out of the drunk tank the next day. I had blown over a .08 in the sobriety tests at the station. I dragged my feet with shame and disappointment in myself as I walked out of the station...

The Emotional Torture After A DUI

First of all, I know I should have never driven in the first place. I hated myself more than anyone knows. I take full responsibility for my actions and I would recommend that nobody else drives with alcohol in their system. I spent approximately 16 hours at the station and I was so distraught.

Those 16 hours felt like years. So many thoughts flooded my head…

“Well, there goes my life, my career, and my self-worth…”

After my brother picked me up from the police station, I couldn’t eat or sleep for a week. I couldn’t believe the DUI charge even happened to me.

I have to say, if I didn’t have classes to go to, I probably would have laid in bed for the next 3 or so months…

Every day was torture. I wasn’t suicidal but every day I returned home from school I wanted to have a breakdown and punch some pillows out of frustration…

I was so mad at myself.
How could I be so reckless?

It felt like my life was over.

All of my insurance bills went up... and I had to pay for all of those DUI classes. I was a college student barely affording to eat already so this really made money tight.

Not to mention I had to deal with the embarrassment of telling all of my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and friends about why I could not drive myself around. This was the worst part. Not telling my family and friends... but not being able to drive. It really does make you so dependent on other people and public transportation. Your schedule revolves around people and bus schedules. Ride-sharing applications add up and I just didn’t have the money to spend.

I can’t tell you enough.

Everything about getting a DUI is stressful.

Take It One Day At A Time

I had to live every day with the regret of drinking and driving but after a lot of time, I got used to it. I eventually fully accepted my mistake as well as the consequences and my life felt a little less stressful.

I’d recommend to anyone who was recently convicted of a DUI to take it one day at a time. Don’t stress about getting jobs, or thinking too much about your future but instead, to make the most of the day and take the best steps moving forward. Looking back, this was a really stressful time in my life but honestly, I simply made a mistake.

And we all make mistakes. This is not to lessen my actions or try to rationalize that what I did was okay, however, it just puts me back in perspective to not be so hard on myself.

I am human, you know.

My good buddy who is a f
reelance copywriter recommended that I keep a journal for emotional therapy. Keeping a log about how I was feeling on some of those days where I was feeling especially down really helped a lot. Just writing about the stress and struggles I experienced would help me feel less distraught.

I’m honestly really grateful for the experience because it taught me not to drive with any alcohol in my system and to really think of driving as a privilege. After all that time, I relied on people to take me places, I am so grateful to be able to drive now.

Just know that the charge does eventually go
away on your record and you will be okay. I couldn’t work some jobs while I was in college because I had a DUI on my record, but for the most part, it wasn’t too much of a factor in my job searches.

Please think twice if you are about to drive home with alcohol in your system. Trust me, it blows to not be able to drive. You will get through it. Again, it’s going to be tough, but you’ll make it through. What really helped me was to hang out with friends or family members who knew I wasn’t a bad person. They know I just made a mistake and treated me like normal which really lent a hand to rebuild my self-esteem.

The best piece of advice for anybody out there who just recently received a DUI is to learn your lesson and move on. Not to sound like your parent but that’s really all that we can do in that situation. The past is the past and all we can do is focus on being better in the future.

Bio:
Brandon Leuangpaseuth is a
freelance writer from San Diego, CA. You can connect with him on LinkedIn @ bleuangpaseuth

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.

On Probation

On Probation

Hi everyone. Been a while, I know. Truth of the matter is that once you’re sentenced, you’ve done your classes, gotten rid of your interlock, got your license back, life continues where you left off. Sure, your insurance is still high, but there’s an end in sight.

You might not believe this, but there comes a time when you
hardly even think about your DUI.

It’s a good feeling. It’s a weird feeling.

Probation in CA lasts for three years. Throughout my journey with the DUI I kept getting different answers as to when it started. In my final assessment, my DUI class instructor told me that it started from the date of arrest. That made me feel better. It did not turn out to be the case. You’re on
probation as soon as you get arrested, but it doesn’t count towards your probation. Would’ve been nice if it did, but, alas, it’s just how things go.

My lawyer told me it would start from the day I was
sentenced. This seemed to make sense, but this, too, wasn’t quite the case. One day a few weeks ago, I decided to call up the DMV and double check (always a good idea) to make sure that my probation had passed like it should have. It did. Just my last day of probation was a month and a half later than I had calculated.

No idea why, and there’s really nothing I could’ve done about it. Can you imagine calling the DMV, “Hi, while I didn’t violate my probation, can you retroactively make my probation have ended earlier?”

If I had to do it again, which I’m trying my damnedest not to, I would’ve gotten my lawyer or called myself to find a definitive date that my probation was over. Would’ve had a small little celebration to myself when midnight ticked over on the clock when it happened (not drinking and driving, of course).

The probation you go on for your first DUI (and possibly others) is called “Summary Probation”, which basically means “don’t fuck up or we’ll throw the book at you”. There’s no expensive probation officer, which is probably the first time they let you not have another fee they could charge you. No PO, no checking in, nothing like that. Just don’t mess up.

Additionally you can't refuse a field sobriety test, and your odds of getting picked at a
DUI checkpoint raise if they're checking plates (although I cruised through two, sober, without being tested).

So what is messing up?

Some people believe it’s committing any crime, but that’s not quite it. My lawyer told me that he had somebody arrested for shoplifting while on DUI probation and the court didn’t care, didn’t consider it a violation. (
Update: I have been told in other states that this will trigger a violation, so best to keep clean as a whistle) While this blog does not condone shoplifting or any other crimes in any way whatsoever, you should know what scrutiny you’re under.

This probation deals with alcohol and driving - basically you can’t get caught with even a drop of alcohol in your blood when you’re driving or else you’ll face some consequences (and remember, you can't refuse a test). The common thing to say is that it’s another DUI even if you’re at .0001, but that’s not true either. They can only give you a DUI if you’re over .08 (.05 now in some places), otherwise it’s “just” a probation violation, which means more school, more money paid, more probation. If you’re above .08 you get a DUI on top of that. Not good.

Other traffic infractions are fine. This I can verify personally - I did receive a parking ticket, and an out-of-state speeding ticket (14 over on the highway, bullshit speed trap), and neither affected my probation or caused any additional consequences (and yes, I was sweating bullets when pulled over on that highway and very worried about if this counts as a violation. Next rest stop I did a lot of googling until I calmed down enough to continue on my trip.)

Any sort of aggravated driving, road rage, that sort of thing takes you into the “maybe” territory. It’s all up to a judge and the system, and by this point you know how it goes. If they can, they usually will. You might catch a break, probably not, depends on a lot of things out of your control, and how you handle yourself around them. Bottom line: I wouldn’t depend on anything.

Your Summary Probation basically comes down to two tenets:
  1. Don’t drink and drive
  2. Don’t be an asshole.

Seems easy enough. But three years is a long, long time. It gets harder and harder the longer you are from your DUI. Drinks after work, wine with a meal, beer at a ballgame. The temptations are everywhere. And if you’re like me, and haven’t quit drinking, you’ll eventually indulge yourself.

“A beer or two won’t hurt, not like I’m getting drunk, not like that night”

And then you wait a little bit, don’t get ‘one more for the road’, call it early.

And then you get in your car, and you head home. With just a little bit in your system. Nothing too bad, just a little bit.

And then a cop gets behind you.

And then you start sweating, worrying. Praying that your tail light is working, making sure your seat belt is fastened tight.

And the cop keeps following you, and you start worrying if he is playing games with you, you’re worrying that he somehow knows that you’re in violation.

You turn off the radio, you pay the best attention you can, and then eventually the cop turns down another road, and you let out a big sigh of relief.

Then two weeks later your friend asks you to happy hour.

And you start to sweat again, and think about what could happen.

This is what it’s like. It’s easy in that you don’t really have to do anything except not mess up. It’s hard in that our society practically pushes people to drink and drive. Odds are you’re reading this because you went to a social function, or did something that we’re told is how you relax. You felt fine because we don’t teach people how alcohol affects the body and it’s impossible to “feel” what your BAC level is. We make fun of people who use breathalyzers, and everyone condemns drinking and driving but nearly everyone does it.

You’re going to find yourself in a lot of situations where you will be tempted to violate your probation. I suggest
knowing your BAC by using a portable breathalyzer, or taking an Uber or Lyft.

Looking over your shoulder for cops all the time sucks.

Some lawyers will offer you a service to where they can reduce your probation, usually take off the third year. I didn’t go for this, they wanted a thousand dollars for it, and I’d spent enough. Instead, I went through the whole thing. The theory is they cite your fulfilling all your commitments and use your two years (one and a half in some cases) of not violating probation as evidence that you won’t violate it for the next. Works some times, doesn’t work others. I decided to stick it out, a thousand dollars buys a lot of Lyfts, and I can refuse one last round and wait it out.

And so I did.

And now I’m free.

Reader, I can’t tell you how good it feels to be free of the system to come this far. Now I just have to get past the 3-year anniversary of finalizing my suspension to get my insurance rates to fall to normal and then… it’s all behind me.

The journey is long, and it’s hard, but just take it one step at a time, and you can get through it. It costs a lot, and it takes up a lot of time, but you can get through it.

You can Survive a DUI.

3 Pieces of Evidence You Should NOT Give to The Police When You Are Pulled Over for Suspicion of a DUI

I received an email via my contact page from Brandon Leuangpaseuth, who wanted to share some tips to get through a DUI checkpoint. - Tom.

Getting pulled over for drinking and driving can be a stressful situation. Most of the time, you will be so nervous or caught up in the situation, you will oftentimes unknowingly give the police officer evidence for building a case against you.

Drinking and driving is against the law and should be avoided at all costs. The best policy to avoid a drunk driving citation is to drive with no alcohol in your system. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you have been pulled over and you are uncertain if you are above the legal drinking limit, do yourself a favor and do not help the officer by giving them evidence.

Here are 3 things you should avoid giving the police officer after you have been pulled over with the suspicion of drunk driving.

1. Answering Questions that Will Be Used To Build a Case Against You

Most of the time, when a police officer pulls you over late at night, they will ask you a series of seemingly innocuous preliminary questions such as:

Where are you coming from?... Have you had anything to drink tonight?... How much did you
have to drink tonight?... When did you start drinking?... When did you stop drinking?


First off, it is imperative that you are polite and courteous. Period. Giving a police officer attitude or being disrespectful will do nothing for you. It will most likely make matters worse so be friendly and respectful.

Only after you are asked by the police officer then you should provide your license, proof of insurance and registration. You are only required to present your license, your proof of insurance, and your car’s registration card at any time when a police officer requests you to do so and you are not obligated to answer any of their following questions.

When an officer asks you any of those questions above, you can politely and respectfully decline. Again, always be kind and courteous. A simple statement like this would suffice:

“Due respect, officer, but I do not wish and am not required to answer any questions. Am I free to go?”

If you were to answer any of those questions, the police will be recording all your answers and anything you say can and will be used against you in your police case. The police report will contain all the information you gave to the officer so it is best that you minimize that information by using your right to remain silent.

2. Refuse the Roadside Field Sobriety Tests

Most of the time, if the officer has a suspicion that you were drinking and driving, they will ask you to step out of your car.

Comply with the officer's request. The officer will then instruct you to do a series of roadside field sobriety tests.

Most individuals do not know that these roadside tests are
completely voluntary.

Let me spell it out for you. An officer is asking you to do tests to find evidence for your alleged crime. The last thing on earth that you want to do is give them any evidence to support your conviction. If you partake in the roadside field sobriety tests, these subjective tests will be used in the police report as evidence against your demise. Just say, “no, officer I won’t”.

Some people will think:
Oh, I feel completely fine. I will just act in accordance with the police’s orders to get this officer off of my back.

Again, these tests are subjective and any misstep or mistake will be used as evidence for proving your guilt and conviction. Even if you feel completely fine, chances are this will probably be the first time you will ever be doing these motions and you will most likely mess up. Don’t believe me? Go take a beginners dance class or some golf courses. You will see mimicking movements after watching someone do so is a difficult task if it is your first time doing so.

If the officer continues to insist that you take the tests, tell the officer you would like to take the test, but you would like to ask your
DUI lawyer first if it is okay. You can then pretend to talk with a lawyer. Afterward, tell the police officer that your attorney told you to not take the roadside field sobriety test because they are voluntary as well as they are designed for a person to fail.

In summary, refuse the police officers request for the roadside field sobriety test. The officer cannot use your results on the field sobriety tests if you refuse it. The officer will bring you into custody, but you would have probably been arrested anyway.

3. Decline the Roadside Breathalyzer Test

One of the last pieces of evidence you can give to the officer is the roadside breathalyzer test. It should be noted, that there is an immense difference between refusing a roadside breathalyzer test and refusing a breathalyzer test at the police station.

If you do not consent to a roadside breathalyzer test, the officer will believe that you are intoxicated and are a danger to yourself and the general public. By the implied consent laws, this will allow them to arrest you because you refused to take the tests.

This is okay. Oftentimes, these roadside breathalyzer tests are
susceptible to errors and should be avoided at all costs. Why put yourself in a situation where the results to an unreliable test are used to legally convict you?

When you are at the station, if you refuse the tests then, you are subject to getting your license suspended by the DMV for 6 months to a year depending on what state you are in. Although your refusal of a blood-alcohol concentration test may be seen in some states as an admission of committing the crime (that can be used against you in a trial), in all the states, if you refuse to be tested, the penalties will be far more harsher if you are convicted if you submitted the tests in the first place.

A quick tip is that when you are asked to take a blood-alcohol concentration test, ask for a blood test instead of a breathalyzer test in the station. The reasoning behind it is that blood tests take some time to analyze and receive the results. The police officer that has arrested you has to write their report and build their case with the evidence they have. Hopefully, you have provided them with no evidence such as the roadside breathalyzer test, answering their questions, or field sobriety tests.

Also, when building your defense, DUI blood tests are more prone to a variety of errors that can be disputed in court. These mistakes can produce an unreliable blood alcohol concentration result and can be fought in court.

Know Your Rights and Be Safe On the Road

Here are my tips for not giving a police officer 3 crucial pieces of evidence to convict you of an alleged DUI. Once more, the best way to avoid a drunk driving conviction is to drive completely sober! Know your rights and be safe on the road.

Guest Post: Getting Home Safely

Dale Vernor reached out to me via my contact page, and asked to share his thoughts on alternatives to driving drunk. He emphasized that due to the time of year, this information needs to be out there as much as possible, and I agreed. Dale is a writer and researcher in the fields of mental health and substance abuse. He enjoys discussions on politics. - Tom

It’s 2 a.m. The bartender has announced last call and you know you have to get home, but you’ve been drinking pretty steadily all night. Or, your friend’s party could be ending and you’re feeling a little buzzed.

In either case, driving home isn’t worth it. If you try driving home, you could get into an accident that hurts you or others or does serious property damage. Even if you’re lucky enough to avoid an accident, you could be charged
with a DUI or face other legal trouble.

December holidays and New Year’s celebrations can be particularly dangerous. Many people drink during these celebrations and might get behind the wheel when its dark, the weather can be bad, and roads can be icy. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation noted, “Nationally, over the past five years, an
average of 300 people died in drunk driving crashes the week between Christmas and New Year.”

So what can you do during the holiday season or any other time when you are out drinking to avoid getting a DUI?

  • Call a friend or family member. You would be surprised how many friends and family members would hop out of bed during a dead sleep to come and pick you up. Sure, it might feel a little embarrassing at first. Sure, you might feel guilty for waking them up late at night. But, a little initial embarrassment and guilt is far better than the pain and trouble you could experience if you cause a deadly accident or receive a DUI.

  • Assign a Designated Driver. If you have a group of friends that go out a lot for drinks, rotating the DD is the most fair way to go about this. Taking the time to call a friend, call a cab service or ride sharing company, or getting a designated driver could save you court costs, jail time or even court ordered alcohol rehab.

  • Call a taxi or ride sharing service. Yes, this cost money but compared to court costs a taxi or an Uber is way less expensive. Yes, it is inconvenient to have to go back and get your car the next day, but driving drunk and risking a DUI and staying the night in jail, if not longer is far more inconvenient than getting your car the next day.

You’re not the first person who has had too much to drink and needs a ride home. You won’t be the last. Drunk driving is not worth the risk, the consequences of accidents and DUIs are long-term. Don’t let feelings of bothering someone for a ride, or the cost of a taxi deter you from getting home safe.


The First DUI for Electric Scooters

So often when people try to contact me, they give me some questions like "Can you get a DUI on a bike" (yes, but general consensus if you have to be a real asshole to a cop to get one), to "Can you get a DUI on a horse?" (No), and more.

I haven't been asked if you can get a DUI on one of those electric scooters (Bird, Lime, etc.) that have been buzzing all around Santa Monica and other places, but now we have
the first conviction of somebody for a DUI on a scooter.

"
City Atty. Mike Feuer said his office had secured a misdemeanor conviction against Nicholas Kauffroath, 28, who was riding a Bird scooter on a sidewalk in West L.A. when he knocked a pedestrian to the ground and scooted away to a nearby apartment building without stopping to render aid."

Now, like I mentioned with the bicycle… you have to be kind of asking for it. So far they haven't been doing checkpoints for scooters besides issuing tickets for people riding them in restricted areas. Hitting somebody and zipping off… that's asking for it. That's a hit-and-run. That's more being buzzed on a scooter.

"
Kauffroath, who did not return a request for comment, was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay a $550 fine, Feuer said. He was also ordered to pay restitution to the victim, complete a three-month DUI program, and stay off scooters while drinking."

What's interesting is that while these scooters require you to have a drivers license… it doesn't look like Kauffroath will have a suspension or an interlock placed on his regular vehicle. He's getting a standard DUI class for a first offender, a higher than normal fine, and a normal probation. A big penalty for a stupid mistake.

So don't drink and drive and ride a Bird or Lime around. You won't catch me on one of those things, they go too fast and drivers are bad enough when you're surrounded by 2000 pounds of metal.

Guest Post: 4 Tips to Survive A DUI Checkpoint

I received an email via my contact page from Brandon Leuangpaseuth, who wanted to share some tips to get through a DUI checkpoint. - Tom.

There has been a lot of controversy with the legality of checkpoints because you are protected by the 4th amendment from unreasonable searches and seizures. However, the Supreme Court evaluated the entire circumstance of DUI checkpoints. They determined that the state's interest in safe roads and the success rate of finding impaired drivers weighed against the average
delay of less than 30 seconds per driver meant that the search and seizure were not unreasonable. The U.S. Supreme court upheld the legality of DUI checkpoints.

The best way to survive a checkpoint is to be completely sober. However, if you had a few drinks and you encounter a police DUI checkpoint, here are 4 tips to surviving the checkpoint.

1. Use Your Right To Remain Silent

The majority of checkpoint encounters would start with the police officer asking you a series of questions to determine if you have been drinking. What a lot of people don’t realize is that you are not obligated to answer any of these questions. You are protected by the 5th amendment and have the right to remain silent and not have to contribute to your own potential demise. If an
officer asks you if you had any drinks tonight, you can just say “I respectfully decline to answer these questions, and I would like to talk to my
defense attorney”.

Anything you say, can and will be used against you in a case if you are arrested. If you answered that you had a few drinks, the officer has some suspicion that you are potentially breaking the law. No matter how nice the officer may seem, they are doing their job - trying to get evidence to support a case against you.

2. Refuse the Field Sobriety Test and the Breathalyzer Test

Most people think that if they refuse the field sobriety test or the breathalyzer test, they will get their license suspended. This is a common misconception. The only time you will get your license suspended is if after you are arrested and you refuse to take a breathalyzer or blood test. If you decline the field sobriety test or the breathalyzer test before the officer has any probable cause to arrest you, you will be okay.

The officer is collecting evidence to determine if they have probable cause that you have committed a crime. Failed completion of field sobriety tests is used, in the officers eyes, as evidence that a crime has been committed. The field sobriety test is a difficult test to take even if you are completely sober. In a field sobriety test, an officer will administer three tests to determine if you are intoxicated: the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, the walk-and-turn test, and the one-leg stand test. It is in your best interest to not provide any excess evidence to allegations of you committing a crime.

3. Do Not Get Out of Your Car (Unless There Are Signs of Alcohol And You Have To)

Officers have no right to force you out of your car unless they have reason to believe that you are drunk. However, slurred words, an open container or the aroma of alcohol can be enough probable cause to make a case for a DUI. Going this route, the officer has to establish exactly what they are being arrested for a DUI.

Oftentimes, the police officer will ask you to step outside and you should always respectfully decline. Do not give the officer probable cause to arrest you.

4. Don’t drive through!

You do not have to drive through a DUI checkpoint. You can turn around and simply not drive through the DUI checkpoint. There are no laws forcing you to drive through a DUI checkpoint.

As long as you do not commit a crime i.e. an illegal turn or any other traffic violation, the officer does not have enough probable cause to pull you over and detain you. Oftentimes, DUI checkpoints can be a long line and you are not obligated to wait in the line.

If you have been out and drinking, and you do not want to deal with the hassle of a DUI checkpoint, just turn around legally and you will be fine.


Should I Buy a Portable Breath Testing Device for Personal Use

Got an email from Len, who wanted to chime in on the breathalyzer issue. - Tom.

If a person has consumed alcohol away from home, and he or she is concerned about being over the legal blood alcohol limit, a personal breath testing device (PBT) might control their decision about driving home. Such a device can help avoid an accident, injuries, a night in jail or all three of them. PBTs are used by many police departments across the country for purposes of establishing probable cause to take a driver down to the station for certified breath testing. They're also available to the general public to help keep that from happening. For a charge, some bars even have their own stationary breath testing machines for use by their customers.

You Get What You Pay For
Any person who frequently consumes alcoholic beverages and drives might want to have a portable breath testing device. PBTs are hand-held devices that a person can use to measure their blood alcohol concentration anywhere that they might be. Some models even plug into smartphones with an app that performs all of the computations. They might be told right away if it's safe to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle to drive home, or whether they should call Uber, Lyft or a taxi service. What comes to issue is the consistency and reliability of these devices. There can be a differential of plus or minus 20 percent from one blow to another from the same person, especially on the least expensive models. That's a big variable when a determination must be made as to whether a person should even be thinking about driving.

PBT Reliability Issues
There's a reason why PBT testing isn't admissible for purposes of proving guilt or innocence in a DUI trial. Their results simply aren't reliable. Some units need to be periodically returned to the manufacturer for recalibration. Others simply deteriorate over time. Even the most expensive PBTs carry a disclaimer on the back of their packaging. Others are marked as being for personal or home use only. Remember the reason for that: PBT results are generally unreliable. If you are considering a PBT see our review of this smartphone Breathalyzer. If you're going to get a PBT this is the one to buy. We have done a thorough review of it here.

Trust Your Gut
It's more likely than not that if you have any amount of an alcoholic beverage on your breath, and you're the subject of a traffic stop, you're going to end up at the police station with a blow or no blow dilemma. Your PBT results are irrelevant. The decision on whether to blow is up to you, but remember, if you refuse that breath testing, and you're found guilty of DUI, the penalties are going to be even more severe.
Contact a lawyer
It is almost always worth hiring a DUI lawyer after a DUI charge. You'll have questions, they'll advise you of your legal options, and you can decide on what direction you wish to take.


Guest Post: Both Sides

I received an email via my contact page from David, who has seen both sides of receiving a DUI/DWI, both as an offender and as a victim. It's a really great perspective on everything we face. While this site does try to help get people through their DUI experiences, we do not endorse drinking and driving, and hope that everybody who goes through it learns their lesson and does not have a repeat offense. Thanks to David for this article, it was a harrowing read. - Tom.

My name is David. I am both a DWI offender and a victim of a DWI crash.

My DWI

Years ago, I had a bunch beers while enjoying a summer weekend with friends: I don't remember the exact number but it was at least 4 or 5. I stopped drinking at some point before I knew I had to leave.

I didn't stop soon enough. I didn't know that at the time. I thought I was ok to drive. I had driven home many, many times before in worse shape.

I was about a mile from home when I rear ended another driver at a red light. Fortunately, it was a minor fender bender and neither of us were hurt.

The cops came: I failed field sobriety tests, was arrested and taken to jail. I blew .09 at the station.

I was kept overnight in jail. I didn't sleep. My mind was racing with what might happen. All I could imagine was the worst.

The next morning, I walked home: my car was impounded and undriveable. My house keys were with my car; I had to break into my house.

That was a long, difficult summer and fall. I took the laws seriously: I sold my car after it was repaired. I rode my bike and public transportation every where I needed to go, including court.

I attended the driver responsibility training. During the driver responsibility training, I learned about the rate that alcohol metabolizes. I attended a victim impact panel.

I live in a state next to Canada: I haven't been to Canada since. I plan to request permission to go to Canada again soon.

Since then, I have tried to be responsible about drinking. I have gone long periods without drinking.

Being Hit By a Drunk Driver

Jump ahead a few years: my wife and I went out to dinner with one of her friends. We rode our bikes from our house to the restaurant, something we’d done many times before. It was a beautiful, late summer evening and we thoroughly enjoyed the weather and ride.

After dinner, my wife suggested we ride down to the waterfront. We had done so dozens of times before: it seemed perfectly safe.

We rode about 100 feet when it happened: we were hit. My wife and I were riding single file. She was riding behind me and the drunk driver hit her first. He hit me immediately after her.

Neither of us had any clue what happened. One moment we're riding our bikes, the next, we were flat on our backs, on the road. We were thrown from our bikes on to the road.

I couldn't move but I tried to pull myself up. I must have been unconscious briefly because someone was already with me and told me to lay still. I didn't know where my wife was or if anything had happened to her. I didn’t really know what was going on around me: I tunnel vision that limited what I saw and experienced.

Meanwhile, the driver who hit us took off. My bike was under the front of his SUV. He stopped after about 500', got out of his SUV and tried to pull my bike out from under his car.

By that time, people running after his car caught up to him. Moments later, the police showed up. He refused the breath test and was arrested.

An ambulance showed up and took me to the local emergency room. When I was unloaded, I heard the emergency room personnel say that one of us would go in one room and I to another. It was at that point I realized my wife was hurt. I didn't know just how badly she was until later that night.

We were hit around 9:45pm. I spent the entire night in an emergency room, wide awake.

Around 11pm, a police officer came to ask me if I knew what happened. I had no clue, so he filled in the details. And he told me what had happened to my wife: she had a broken leg, fractured ribs, fractured vertebrae and a broken collarbone.

I was a lot more fortunate: mostly scrapes and bruises. My back was torn up from landing and sliding on the road. Because of that, I didn't see a doctor until about 6am.

When the doctor released me, I couldn't walk. The trauma of being hit took its toll on me. The doctor gave me a cane and sent me on my way. I mustered all of my strength and, quite literally, dragged myself to my wife's room.

When I finally got there, I was never so happy to see someone in my life. She was battered and clearly injured but she was alive.

My wife had surgery to fix her leg later that day. Doctors put a rod in her leg to put it back together. That sounds like a simple thing but in reality, it is a very violent surgery. The rod has to be hammered in. Go look up inter medullary rod surgery on YouTube. There are plenty of videos showing how it's done.

My wife stayed on the surgery floor for for a couple days and was then transferred to the rehab floor.

She spent two weeks in rehab, learning how to walk again, how to get out of bed. When you are hurt that badly, your body shuts down. Nurses get you out of bed to go to the bathroom... after they take your catheter out. You have no independence: you have to retrain your body to do basic functions.

Over the course of two weeks, my wife progressed from not being able to get out of bed to a wheelchair to a walker and finally to a cane. She was released from the hospital wearing a cervical collar, which she had to wear another 12 weeks.

She lost her independence during that time. She could not drive. Me, my family, our friends took her to the many follow up appointments. She had to go to physical therapy for weeks afterwards.

While my wife was being put back together in the hospital, getting rehab, trying to recover from this incredibly violent assault, the driver was at home, sleeping in his own bed. Going about his daily life.

While she was in the hospital, I struggled through daily existence. I couldn't walk without a cane for several weeks and was dependent on friends to get me to the hospital and back. My wife missed the start of our son’s school year. She missed the start of his soccer season. She didn’t go to the school’s open house.

My mother came to stay with us. She drove me everywhere and, when my wife got out of the hospital, drove her many places.

Slowly, we recovered from our physical injuries. The rod in my wife's leg made it impossible for her to lay on that side and, a year later, she had it removed.

We both have constant reminders of the crash. My wife has scars on her leg from the surgeries. Her collarbone never healed properly. Her doctor told her she faces arthritis in the bones that were injured.

I have scars on my back. I developed tinnitus, probably from hitting my head on the SUV and/or road. I have a constant, high pitched ringing in my ears: it never stops and it never gets better.

Those are the physical scars. My wife didn’t want to ever ride a bike again. She did get back on a bike but she won’t ride anywhere except the neighborhood. We used to enjoy exploring the city, going places, doing things on our bikes. That joy is gone for my wife: every car that passes makes her nervous. She won’t ride at night. That I ride when it’s dark makes my wife very nervous.

After The Crash

After the crash, we had to deal with all sorts of issues.

The person who hit us ran. He left us for dead. Running sends a very strong message to victims about the value of their lives: it says that we are worth nothing. A human would stop, if for no other reason to see if we were ok.

Running makes the driver a monster. It makes him inhuman.

We suddenly got sucked into the insurance system. We live in a no fault state and the hospital and doctors dealt with the insurance company directly for the most part. There was a long, tense period where the insurance company was “deciding” if we shared any responsibility (we didn’t).

We wondered if there were going to be medical bills not covered by the insurance. We worried about how we would have to pay those if it happened.

We also got sucked into the criminal justice system. A victim advocate and the district attorney came to see us in the hospital. We were, to say the least, skeptical about what would happen.

The person who hit us was charged with a variety of things. It wasn’t his first DWI, either: he had a prior DWI conviction 7 years earlier that resulted in a 3 year probation. Clearly, he didn’t learn anything from that experience.

By the time we got to the arraignment (yes, victims can and will attend your arraignment), the driver had agreed to plead guilt to the top offense (hitting and injuring my wife while intoxicated). No one ever came right out and told us but the other charges were dropped. The driver was not prosecuted for hitting me.

We had to wait months while the criminal justice system did what they needed to do: talk to the driver, write sentencing recommendation reports et cetera. When it came time for sentencing, we were given the opportunity to make statements to the court. We were also encouraged to gather statements from our family members and friends about the impact on them (more on that below). In our statements, we could ask the judge to give a certain sentence.

The driver who hit us faced a maximum sentence of 3 years in prison. The sentencing guidelines in our state aren’t great, from a victim’s standpoint. For the crime, any given sentence seems like a joke.

My wife and I both read statements we’d prepared. We asked the judge for a split sentence: some jail time and five years of probation. We wanted the driver under close supervision for the maximum amount of time. A prison sentence might have been more punitive in the short term but would have, overall, resulted in less supervised time.

The judge was surprised by our request but understood the logic and agreed to it. He also made it abundantly clear to the driver that, if he violated probation, he would sentence the driver the maximum he could.

The driver and his lawyer attempted to show the judge he had started to turn his life around. He may have tried to apologize, I don’t know. I don’t recall anything that sounded even remotely like a sincere apology.

I mentioned the impact on our families above. One of the things you have to when something like this happens is tell everyone in your family before they find out some other way. We were lucky in that respect: our families didn’t have police officers showing up to tell them we were dead.

Almost all our family members live far away: my wife’s dad lives at the other end of the state. My dad lives in the south; my mom was in an airport somewhere. My wife’s brother lives overseas. Only my sister lives in town.

I had to call my wife’s father and tell him what happened and that we were ok. I couldn’t reach my mother: I had to message her through Facebook. Same thing for my dad.

I had no idea how to reach my wife’s brother: I’d never called him. So I took her phone and texted him. I wasn’t thinking about how any of these people would receive the message: I just needed to tell them as quickly as possible.

It wasn’t until months later that I found out about the impact of those messages. My wife’s brother said (in his impact statement): “I chat online with (my sister) quite frequently. Seeing her name popup in the message list on my mobile phone is a regular event. I know, when I see her name, that I am communicating with my sister. However, on the afternoon (after the crash), I received a very disturbing message. The message was delivered from Roberta's mobile phone, however it was made quite clear from the onset that it wasn't my sister who was writing.”

“Seeing that someone very close to my sister, but not my sister herself, was writing to me from her phone sent an immediate and shocking chill through my body. My immediate fear was that my sister had died somehow, and this was the method by which I would receive the news. He ultimately told me they were both alive and will survive, but I will never forget that cold chill shock. I will never forget that moment of feeling that I might have just lost my sister forever.”

I choke up and tears come to my eyes every time I read that. It chills me to the core: I don’t want anything like what happened to us to happen to any of my friends or family members.

The driver received a split sentence. He served his jail time and is currently service his probation. He wore an ankle monitor for six months or so. While he’s on probation, he must live under a long list of restrictions. He can’t leave the county. He can’t go anyplace (restaurant, bar) that serves alcohol (that includes Chucky Cheese). He faces random inspections. There can’t be any alcohol where he lives.

If the DMV agrees to let him have his license back (an uncertainty considering the prior DWI and the violence of the 2nd), he’ll have to put (and pay for) an interlock in every car he has access to in his household.

He has a felony conviction, which makes certain job opportunities unavailable to him.

We understand he paid his lawyers $10,000. For two court appearances. Actually, he didn’t pay it: a family friend did. I assume he has to pay it back.

Final Thoughts

As part of the civil side of a DWI crash, your victims will find out a lot about you. We found out the driver who hit us had declared bankruptcy and had tens of thousands of dollars of outstanding debts. He didn’t have any assets.

You might want to think about that if you’ve had one DWI. The reason a victim’s lawyer looks into your assets is to see what can be recovered for the victim.

We were fortunate that the driver who hit us carried reasonable insurance coverage. It covered all our medical expenses. There are limits to the coverage, however. That largest number (bodily injury liability) is a policy limit: all victims split it. So, if you have $300,000 (which is common), that’s the max the insurance company will pay out to all victims, combined. If those victims obtain a judgement against you, the balance comes from your assets.

The penalties for DWI, especially for a DWI that doesn’t involve other victims, can seem harsh. To the victim, they seem laughable. Having been both, I understand the point: they are intended to deter drivers from repeat DWIs. In our part of the state, all DWI drivers have to attend driver responsibility training and a victim impact panel.

At the victim impact panel, people like my wife and I, and other people, who’ve lost children, husbands, wives, parents, tell their story. They talk about the impact it had on their lives. We have a couple of people who’ve had multiple DWIs and made victims of themselves who present.

It is a terrible club to be in. Everyone there is because of heartbreak. For the victims, it doesn’t ever get better. There is not a day that goes by when we don’t think about what happened, what someone else did to us.

And in so doing, how cheaply they did it. How little value they place on our lives. We know our lives could have been, the lives of loved ones were, taken away for a few drinks.

Depending on where you live, the recidivism rate is somewhere between 11 and 69%. A DWI arrest is a predictor of another arrest. And, from what I’ve learned, the 2nd and later offenses will be worse. It is not a matter of whether you will be involved in a crash, just a matter of time.

Every one of the victims I present with has the same message: we don’t care if you drink. If you have a problem, we want you to get help. But if you want to drink socially, we’re not trying to discourage you. We just want you to do everything you can to stop yourself from drinking and driving. We want you to have a plan and to stick to it: once you’ve started drinking, your decision making ability is impaired and you will not make the right decision.

Protip: Check and Double Check

Today was an interesting day.

Went down to the courthouse to pay my fine. My deadline is coming up and I wanted to get it out of the way. Most of my time was spent arguing how to do it - should I drive there and park or should I take the train and not worry about parking? How long is this going to take? Should I go early or wait till after the lunch rush?

Most of that wasn't the issue (I walked right up to one of the clerks)

However - I came to find that not all of my paperwork had been filed. The clerk informed me that neither my DMV certificate nor my MADD certificate had been filed. I was shocked! I had taken care of these things more than 9 months ago!

I called my lawyer's office - my lawyer was no longer part of the firm. I explained to them what was going on and within ten minutes they had everything sorted out and a person to go down to the courthouse tomorrow or Monday to file everything.

A few lessons learned:

  1. Don't wait - The longer you wait, the more chances that something will change, something will go wrong, some mistake will be made. The sooner you take care of stuff, the sooner you're not worrying about it, and the more time you have to correct things if they go wrong.

  2. Check and Double Check - Last Spring I biked over to my lawyer's office (I was on full suspension) and turned in my documents. I assumed that he would turn them in to the court in the next few days or so. No real worry. But he hadn't. Either he was waiting for me to drop off the check to pay my fine, or left the firm shortly thereafter (No idea when he left). But my documents had not been filed. It was a mistake to assume that they were.

This is a tough process, I know. And it's no fun, and it's a lot of hassle. But being early, and thorough will save you a lot of headache. If I had gone in at the last moment, I could've had a longer probation, more fines, or worse.

Get it done early, and double check.

Guest Post: Can the Police Use Social Media in Your DUI Case?

I reached out to Attorney Robert Miller, a fellow DUI blogger to get some insights on DUI from a lawyer's perspective. He alerted me to a growing trend that is downright scary - Tom.

Social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+, are rapidly being incorporated by law enforcement agencies for use in gathering evidence of drinking, intoxication, and to otherwise investigate crimes by spying on suspects and individuals on probation or parole.

These techniques are slowly catching on across the country, and are increasingly a hot topic for law enforcement agencies.
In a 2012 survey of 1,221 federal, state and local law enforcement who use social media, four out of five officials used social media to gather intelligence during investigations. Half said they checked social media at least once a week, and the majority said social media helps them solve crimes faster.

People use social media networks to share various amounts of personal information. Some criminal suspects and convicted felons have been known to share photos and videos of criminal activity on Facebook.

The week this article was written, four suspects in Chicago filmed themselves torturing a disabled man on Facebook Live.
In an Orange County example, the Huntington Beach Police used social media to arrest a juvenile for threats made recently.

In another state, a 22-year-old named Colleen Chudney was on probation for a 2012 drunk driving offense. Part of the terms of her court imposed probation required her to refrain from consuming alcohol, which is a common term of DUI probation. After St. Patrick's Day, Chudney was required to take a breathalyzer test in Westland, Michigan. She passed the test. However, she later went on Facebook and posted information to her profile stating that she had been drinking.

"Buzz killer for me, I had to breathalyze this morning and I drank yesterday but I passed thank god lol my dumbass."

Information about the Facebook post got back to Chudney’s probation officer. Thus, she had to return to court to discuss her Facebook statements with the judge. She is facing jail time for the DUI probation violation. If she had never posted that information to facebook, she would never be facing a probation violation in her DUI.

What techniques are the police using to investigate criminal conduct on social media networks? A popular tool is social network analysis, known as SNA. It is an analytical tool that was initially used by the FBI to map and analyze social media relations. Law enforcement agencies can use the tool to analyze the social media networks of suspects, and their interactions with each other.

This type of analysis provides a systematic approach for investigating large amounts of data on people and relationships. It improves law enforcement effectiveness and efficiency by using complex information regarding individuals socially related to suspects. This often leads to improved clearance rates for many crimes and development of better crime prevention strategies.

SNA serves as a valuable tool for law enforcement. While technologically sophisticated, SNA is easy to employ. Using available data, police departments structure the examination of an offender's social network in ways not previously possible, and search for violations.

If you are being prosecuted for or are on probation for drunk driving in Orange County, California, we urge you to refrain from making any statements on social media networks. Any statements may be used against you later by the prosecution or probation officer.
Contact Orange County DUI attorney Robert Miller for legal advice regarding any drunk driving charge(s) you may be facing.

Paying the Price: The Fine (and alternatives to paying the fine)

The minimum fine for a DUI in Los Angeles County is $390. Most likely if you plead out, and/or had no priors, this should be about what you were given in your sentencing.

So, naturally, when you get your documentation you receive a “Compliance of Fine Payment/Cashier Slip” detailing your fine and the various “court costs” associated with your case.

With court costs your $390 fine comes out to be around $2000.

Huh? How’d that happen?

When you think “court costs” you think that you’re being charged for the administrative system, much like the costs associated with getting your driver’s license or getting a permit to do construction. This is not the case.

Instead, the court costs are little fees that they tack on to every conviction to use it as a source of income. Some of this does go to cover Judge’s salaries and the infrastructure of the building, but most of it is used to make up budget shortfalls caused by the public electing to lower taxes (or voting in officials who lower taxes). Lower taxes, higher fines.

The biggest part of the fine is the “Penalty Assessment”. This is assessed on
all criminal fines, not just DUI fines. Get a speeding ticket - it’ll be on there.

Originally in the 1950s the rate of the Penalty Assessment was $1 for ever $20 of your fine. Mine was a little over $30 for every $10 of my penalty.

Additionally, there’s a “Penalty Assessment DNA” which funds DNA identification programs supposedly. Mine was around 1/3rd of my original penalty.

Believe me, how these rates are determined and what the money goes to is incredibly hard to research. For any rate I find online I do the math on my penalties and they don’t quite add up. Some are more, some are less. There’s not much you can do about this, but it would be nice to have some transparency during this part of the process. Alas, that’s not what they want.

The math of the form is difficult to add up - some numbers are listed, giving you a balance for them, but are supposedly included in the base fine - but that doesn’t mean they’re additional listings. If the fine that you agreed to from the court was $390, they’ll list the base fine as $320. Then you have items RESTDUI ($20 - no idea why it’s separate or what it’s for) and LABSVCS ($50 - believe this to be them charging you to use the station breathalyzer) claiming to be part of the base fine, but listed separately. It’s all designed to confuse you.

Trying to research this piece, I hit a lot of dead ends, and can’t find answers. I was charged $75 for PBHEALTH which states that it has a maximum of $100. What determines why mine was $75?

I asked my lawyer about it. He told me not to worry too much about it. He’d looked it over and it was in line with what the others looked like.

I guess you can worry too much about this sort of thing. Fighting any part of it would be an extreme uphill battle.

Alternate Options (and why they’re no good)

On your sentencing form you’ll see a part that says that you will pay a fine or “in default thereof serve ___ additional days in County jail, consecutive,
or perform ___ days of community labor”. Some people’s brain starts turning when they see this - with jails and prisons overcrowding you can often serve at 3:1 ratios (meaning you get credit for 3 days when you serve only 1), and sometimes even get 4:1.

Might it be worth it to give up a weekend or two to save a couple of grand? It seems kind of tempting.

Unfortunately, like most of the bright ideas you come up with to get out of things, it doesn’t work like that.

Serving jail time or doing community labor (which has it’s own difficulties, overcrowding means that you can’t serve that day instead of getting more credit for less) only counts against the base penalty of your fine. The court costs will still be there. In that case, a day in jail only counts for about $35.

Not worth it.

Additionally, some people try to get house arrest to either pay the fine, or count as their probation (more on that later), which isn’t ideal either - then you have to serve out the
full time, no ratios. So 15 days means 15 days (plus the fees for the monitoring bracelet add on, so it’s just a losing proposition).

How to Pay

For once, something in this whole process is simple. If you head down to the clerk’s office, you can pay with cash or a money order, which I expected, but, they’ll even take a personal check and some will even take a credit card.

If you have a check or money order, you can either give it to your lawyer or mail it to the county clerk’s office. If you want to pay cash or with a credit card, you have to go down there. Some places allow you to do this online, but, sadly, Los Angeles is not yet one of them. As with any civil service, expect to wait in line for a while to do a three minute procedure. Be sure to have your documents with you, as they need a lot of information to process your payment.

Payment can be done in a lump sum, or installments if you don’t have the resources. As long as the court is getting something, they’re willing to work with you.

It stings. It certainly does. But, once you’ve paid, you’re closer to getting this behind you.

The Various Outcomes of a DUI Arrest

Like the rest of the process - what can happen to you after your arrest isn’t the clearest. It depends on a lot of things, your BAC, if there was an accident, prior DUI arrests, etc. I’ll try to outline as many as I can, but there’s always something more that can happen… obviously if the cop finds drugs, illegal weapons, or an outstanding warrant, your case will be much more complicated.

Felony DUI
Most likely you’re not in this territory. The vast majority of DUI cases are misdemeanors, but still felony DUIs do happen. A DUI becomes a felony when you commit a traffic violation (wrong way down a one way road, run a stop light, etc.) and injure somebody because of this violation. You’ll know pretty quickly if the state is pursuing a felony charge against you - most likely you’ll have to bond yourself out of jail, and will already be dealing with the guilt of injuring somebody else. A Felony DUI usually requires 180 days in jail, a $3,000-$5,000 fine, a 4-10 year suspension of your license, a possible strike against the three-strikes law, and attendance in an 18-month, or 30-month DUI program. Yikes. It’s just not worth it. On top of that, you will will have to pay restitution to the injured parties, which will not be cheap.

Enhanced Penalty DUI/Aggravated DUI
This is for when you are arrested for DUI and are in an accident, under 21, speeding 20 miles over, or are especially intoxicated. The threshold for “especially intoxicated” is .15, but there’s a lot of judgement involved. I was at a .15, barely, and for whatever reason they did not pursue these charges against me. A .20 BAC is where they
must throw these penalties at you, anything in between .15-.20 is up to the whims of those against you. Even if you were at a .20 it’s not the end of the world. It’s still a misdemeanor. Occasionally you can get rid of the additional penalties if you plead out, depending on how close to the line you were. The additional charges against you will depend on how it was aggravated - but most likely, you’re looking at having to attend a 9-month DUI program instead of the 3-month, and have to attend some AA meetings. A hassle, for sure, unfortunate, for sure, but manageable.

DUI
The vanilla charge. The three letters that have been staring you in the face every day. This is most likely the charge you will be facing. It comes with a $390-$1000 fine (which they take on “court fees” on top of), a 5-month license suspension (which you can turn into a 30-day suspension and 5-month restricted license with an IID), a 3-month DUI program, and 3 years summary probation (more on this later, but basically you just have to be a good boy. You don’t have a probation officer, you don’t have to check in).

Wet Reckless
The Wet Reckless charge is a little bit like a mirage. Lawyers will use it as an incentive to hire them, offering you the possibility of getting it.
There’s very little chance of you pleading your case down to a wet reckless. Usually it’s a compromise for when the police know their instruments were malfunctioning or otherwise can’t convict you, but still want to nail you with something. When I first read about the Wet Reckless, I started hoping and praying that I could negotiate it down to that. I didn’t stand a chance. A Wet Reckless is a DUI-light. It says you had some level of intoxication, but weren’t legally drunk. It’s not something you can be arrested for, it can only come from a plea bargain.

The Wet Reckless is a little bit complicated - it has lesser fines, no mandatory suspension from the court, you only serve a 6-week DUI program, but it still has drawbacks - the most major one is that it’s priorable - meaning if you get a DUI later on, that one will count as your
second DUI. Also, while the court may not suspend your license, the DMV still can, and most certainly will, issue their own suspension. Like I said earlier, there’s not a lot of wiggle room with the DMV. So while you won’t officially be serving a DUI - you’ll be serving the worst part of the sentence - the suspension and subsequent interlock. It also counts as a DUI for purposes of traveling to Canada.

That said, you’ll have beat the system somewhat. And you have to be proud of that. But still,
you most likely will not be eligible for a Wet Reckless.

Dismissal

The least likely outcome. Sometimes, for whatever reason, the DA decides not to pursue some cases. They may know it was an illegal stop or the equipment wasn’t working properly, I don’t know, and if you get yours dismissed, you won’t know either. Be careful - one person in my DUI class had the charges not filed initially, then on the last day the could have been filed they were. Really messed him up, he thought he’d gotten off. This is also the outcome of taking the case to court and somehow winning. It sounds like a dream - fighting the system and winning. Just know that there’s a few caveats to it - 1.) you’ll have to pay a lot of lawyer fees 2.) it’s a gamble, and if you lose, you may wish you’d taken the plea bargain 3.) The DMV case is separate. So while you may win your big day in court, or have no charges filed against you, the DMV can already have decided that you are guilty and your license suspended. It just isn’t fair.


I remember being presented these options from my lawyer, it looked kind of a menu. I wanted to just go “Oh, I’ll have the Wet Reckless” please. It’s not up to you anymore, unless you or your lawyer have incredible negotiation skills. People have done it, but those are outliers. You may be one, but most likely you’re not. Still, it’s good to know all the options that exist.

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