What Happens When Someone Is Stopped On Suspicion Of DUI?

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The cop will see a sign such as driving erratically, speeding, a taillight or break lights out. So make sure all the equipment on your cars is working properly. Do not give the police a reason to pull you over. In other cases you may be sleeping in your car, that could be a problem too because the cop could come up and do a welfare check. They have not even seen you drive, but if you are in the car and you smell of alcohol, they can arrest you for a DUI without even having seen you drive. That is how it usually starts.

The first thing they generally ask you is how much you have had to drink or, “Have you been drinking?” If you have been drinking, you reek of alcohol, your answer to that should be, “I'm not going to talk about it until I have had a chance to talk to my lawyer.” Try not even answer their questions. Most people get intimidated into doing so and answering questions they say, “Well, I've had something to drink” but it could come back to bite you. For example, if you have had ten beers and you tell the cop you only had two, that could come back to bite you if you decide to take the case to trial.

In a situation like that, you should say, “I'm not going to talk about it until I've had a chance to talk to my lawyer.” However, if you are going to tell them what you had to drink, make sure that you are very specific about what it is and the time period you have had to drink. If you had four or five beers, you should spread it out over a long time when you are talking to them about it. The best scenario, though, is not to give them any information. They are only asking you questions in order to use them against you later. You can just tell a police officer, “You know, I have read this article by a lawyer” or, “I've heard a lawyer talk once that all you guys do is ask questions to use against me so I'm not going to answer any questions until I've talked to a lawyer”. That usually will take care of it.


In case they smell alcohol, they will ask you to get out of the car and do some balance and coordination tests. These tests are completely unscientific but that is what they are going to use as judgment to arrest you. When you get out of the car, you should be careful not to have to lean against the car because they are going to write that down that this person used the car for balance, so keep that in mind.


When you do the tests, make sure you tell them if you have any physical problems that would prohibit you from doing some of these tests. There really are only three standard tests that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends to the officers. Even those have never been scientifically validated but generally, these three tests are what they give you. The first one they usually give is a Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test where you do not really do anything except follow a stimulus, like a pencil or flashlight, with your eyes. What they are looking for is to see if your eyes bounce when it reaches the outer edge. If it does, then they claim that that is because you have alcohol in your system.

However, it has been seen in all these tests that everybody's eyes bounce and the cops always say that. That is one of the problems with these field sobriety tests that the police officer can say anything he wants about how the test was performed. There is generally no video till now, it may come in the future. If the police officer could say, “Oh, his eyes bounced before the time they were supposed to.” That is the first test.

The second test is called Standing In Modified Position of Attention. You have to stand with your heels and toes together, arms on your sides, put your head back, close your eyes and estimate thirty seconds in your head. Then open your eyes when you feel the thirty seconds is up. That test was originally developed as a diagnostic tool for syphilis by a doctor named Romberg because apparently syphilis would affect the spinal cord and the central nervous system.

It has nothing to do with being a DUI. They put you in a position where you are not standing naturally. Most people do not stand at attention with their heels and toes together. In the Armed Forces, you do not stand like that. That causes you to waver a little bit and not stand perfectly straight.

Field sobriety tests are actually being designed to fail you. If you can avoid doing them at all, whether these are the good reasons for avoiding doing them, you should.

The third one is you have to Stand on foot with their foot out. The instruction is, “Put your foot out six inches above the ground” and if it is not six inches, you get penalized for that. So, you have to estimate whether it is six inches or not and hold it there and count what the officer tells you to do. They may ask you to hold it there for twenty seconds and stare at your foot. Another way that it is designed for failure is that when you stare at your foot and you are not allowed to look at the horizon around your level, you lose your balance doing that. Tightrope walkers do not stare at their feet, they are looking out at the horizon straight ahead. They make you stare at your feet. That is another reason why it is designed to make you fail.

If you have been Stopped On Suspicion Of DUI In California, call The Law Office Of Blackie Burak for a FREE Case Evaluation at (925) 933-4500 and get the information and legal answers you're seeking.

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