3 Ways to Avoid Getting a DUI

by Law Guru on April 11, 2013

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(US law) Few life experiences are as rattling as the flashing lights and siren of a patrol car suddenly assaulting your senses when you’re driving home at night. Are you about to get a DUI?

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Follow these three tips to avoid a drunk driving arrest, and your odds of avoiding such a charge should improve.

We need to mention that the only real way to completely avoid a drunk driving arrest is to never drive after drinking. Please note that we said to “never drive after drinking”, which is a markedly higher standard than “never drive drunk.” If you’ve consumed any alcohol, don’t drive. While you might feel like you have all your mental and physical faculties, and are even able to pass a home breathalyzer test, you may still be impaired enough that you cannot legally, or safely, drive.

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1. Plan Ahead
The most important tip we can offer here is to plan ahead. If you know you will be drinking, take steps in advance that will save you and others a lot of heartache in the future. Have a designated driver appointed ahead of time. Being the designated driver should be considered a badge of honor among you and your friends. Rotate the responsibility and be true to your word when it’s your turn.

In addition to having a designated driver, it’s important to be honest, open and communicative with your friends and to give them the okay to hold you responsible for your drinking and prevent you from getting into your car. If you have committed to only consuming one drink, but have broken your pledge, allow your friends to hold you accountable and help you act responsibly.

Take a taxi. When you leave home, make sure you have cab fare, which brings up another suggestion: don’t leave home. If you do drink away from home, other smart options include walking to your house or getting a hotel room for the night.

2. Obey Vehicle and Traffic Laws
This article started out by recreating the moment of getting pulled over by a patrol car. If you don’t get pulled over, there’s far less chance of getting arrested for drunk driving. Remember – we can’t stress this too much – that your driving can be impaired even if you’re under the nominal blood alcohol limit.

To avoid being pulled over, make sure your vehicle is ready to be on the road, that your registration is up to date, your lights are all working properly and your seat belts are fastened. Obey all traffic laws. Drive safely and courteously. Have your registration and proof of insurance at hand.

Police officers wisely understand that drivers who scoff laws when it comes to keeping their vehicles road-legal are probably breaking other laws as well. They like to pull these drivers over and check them out.

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3. Know Your Rights
Laws and procedures vary somewhat between states; know your rights when a police officer pulls you over. Here are a few laws that are generally true (check your state’s laws):

  • You do not have to submit to a field sobriety test.

  • You do not have to puff into a portable breathalyzer.

  • You do not have to answer the officer’s questions.

However, always be calm and polite. Don’t be rude, combative or challenge the officer in any way. Understand that if you’ve been driving poorly or breaking traffic laws, the officer will still have cause to arrest you.

Generally there are no legal penalties for refusing to take a breathalyzer test when you are pulled. If you refuse to take the test, the police officer who pulled you will likely arrest you assuming that the mandatory breathalyzer test at the police station will prove that your BAC level is over the legal limit. Field breathalyzer tests are general optional, while police station breathalyzers are mandatory.

If you do get arrested, hire an attorney immediately before answering questions. If you’ve followed any high-profile prosecutions of almost any kind of criminal case, you will notice that delaying legal procedures as long as possible is always part of the defense strategy. The same principle applies during a DUI arrest.

The stakes could not be higher for you and for other drivers and pedestrians should you choose to drink and drive. Remember that the only certain way to avoid a DUI is to not drive after consuming alcohol.

Jon Reiter works with Adams Law Firm, which specializes in criminal law including DUI defense.

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