Anyone in Virginia whom police have pulled over for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol knows that it can be a nerve-racking experience, especially if they didn’t know what to expect beforehand. During a DUI stop, the law allows officers to do certain things. If they do anything outside of what the law allows, it may help one’s case if ultimately charged with DUI.
Police need cause to pull you over for suspected DUI — typically they need to see you commit some form of traffic violation. Traffic violations often seen by those who are driving while impaired include:
- Driving too fast
- Failing to obey traffic signs or signals
- Driving too slowly
- Failing to yield or stop
The good news is, all of these things are also a sign of reckless driving, so a DUI charge is not necessarily a forgone conclusion. In order for an officer to charge you with DUI, the officer also has to see signs or proof of impairment, such as glassy eyes or the smell of alcohol coming from your vehicle. These things give cause to administer sobriety tests.
There are several tests that officers may administer roadside. The three standard field sobriety tests are:
- The walk and turn
- The one-leg stand
- The horizontal gaze nystagmus
All three of these look for physical signs of impairment. Along with these is chemical testing, typically done in the form of a breath test. This is where you provide a breath sample into a machine that then determines your blood alcohol percentage. You may refuse this test roadside unless the officer obtains a warrant, and then you must comply.
What officers cannot do
Police officers cannot pull you over without proper cause. They cannot force you to take part in sobriety testing unless they have a warrant. They cannot take you into custody without telling you why and without first reading you your rights.
What you can do
If pulled over for suspected DUI, you can choose to comply or refuse to comply with the officer’s demands. You may end up arrested either way. If you are, you then have the right to defend yourself. There are various defense options available in DUI cases. With the right assistance, you can choose and present the defense strategy thought best for your circumstances.