What Happens When Someone Gets Arrested For Drunk Driving/DUI In DC ?

Drunk Driving/DUI In Washington , DC

The person will initially get pulled over and the investigatory phase will begin. At the scene of the stop, the police officer will use a variety of methods to determine the driver’s impairment level and he may ask the person to perform field sobriety tests, or ask them to take a preliminary breath test as well.

How Is The Breath Test Conducted?

The preliminary breath test is taken on a little handheld device that officers have with them in their patrol cars. It is not a very accurate machine and the results can’t be used in court, but the results could determine whether or not the officer wanted to arrest the person and take them to the station.

The most important thing is, when the officer approaches the car and asks questions, they are trying to get the driver to make statements to admit they were drinking and to get the driver to consent to take field sobriety tests. The driver may not realize that they are obliged to answer the questions or take the field sobriety test.

What Other Signs Of Impairment Would The Officer Look For?

While asking the driver for his license and registration, and confirming that the person did not have any warrants and was driving on a suspended license, the officer will look for open containers, cups or any other indications that the drivers was consuming alcohol or drugs. They will get the person out of the car and try to get them to agree to perform standard field sobriety tests, such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus, in which they put a pen in front of the person’s face and ask them to follow it with their eyes, looking for indications of impairment. They may even ask the person to walk on a line and then stand on one leg and count out loud.

How Does The Officer Establish Probable Cause To Make An Arrest?

They have to have a legal reason to stop the person in the beginning, usually based on how they saw the person driving; they would have to observe the person committing some sort of traffic infraction, even something as simple as a broken taillight, something the driver may not actually be aware of, and the officer will go into investigation mode as he approaches the car and smells alcohol, and he will try to determine whether or not he felt the person was impaired. If the officer determines he has probable cause, they will be arrested, taken to the police station, where they will be put into a room and read their rights regarding whether or not to blow on the machine, at which point they will ask the person to sign a consent form for that.

What Happens If A Person Cannot Perform The Sobriety Tests?

Sometimes, if the breath machine is not available, they may ask the person to consent to a blood test as well. Sometimes, the driver may consent to blow on the machine but the machine doesn’t provide an accurate reading. Other times, the officers may suspect the person did not blow hard enough, which they may call a refusal to blow on the machine,although they will also indicate that it was really an insufficient breath.

I handled a casein which a young lady swore that she was blowing as hard as she could, but for whatever reason the machine was not producing a result, so they asked her to go to the bathroom with a female police officer and produce a urine sample, which she was unable to do. I argued that it was an understandable situation, since it can be very different for some people to urinate with someone watching, although that’s another thing they try to do.At that point, they will have all the evidence they need and will typically let the person go. They will give that person paperwork informing them of the day and time to return to court.

Would The Person Always Need To Spend The Night In Jail?

Rarely, they will actually keep the person in jail overnight and make them go before a judge in order to get out. When that happens, it is usually an indication that something else is going on; for example, may be they found something else, like contraband or a weapon, and they plan to charge that person with criminal offenses in addition to the DUI. In some cases, perhaps the person was allegedly belligerent with police and they wanted to punish them a little more.

How Can Refusing the Breathalyzer Affect Someone’s Case in the District of Columbia?

There are additional administrative penalties for people who refuse to blow on the Breathalyzer, all of which are associated with the person’s license; if someone chooses not to blow, the officer can issue a revocation of the person’s license for up to a year, whereas if it was a first offense and the person did blow, the revocation could be just six months; that is the most immediate consequence of choosing not to blow.

The police are required to give the person notice regarding the different penalties and consequences. There are additional penalties if someone blew above a 0.20 blood-alcohol content. A first time offender who had never had a DUI before would not be looking at mandatory jail time if they blew above 0.08 or up to a 0.19, but if they blew a 0.20 or above, they would be looking at a 10-day mandatory minimum jail sentence, above 0.25 means a mandatory 15-day jail sentence and a mandatory 20 days if they blew over a 0.30. Very few people low over a 0.30, because at that point a person is generally unconscious once their BAC is in the 0.30 range.

For more information on Getting Arrested For A DUI,please call (202) 770-8006 today to schedule a free initial consultation. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.


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