If you have been stopped for a DUI in Sonoma County, you should know that there are several different legal obstacles officers must overcome before they are able to question you regarding intoxication.
Before an officer can ever ask you to pull over, they must have a valid reason for doing so. This reason is generally a lawful traffic stop. This can be running a red light, speeding, weaving, illegal U-turn, etc.
But the bottom line is that an officer cannot ask you to pull over based on a whim, a hunch or their instinct alone. You must have violated a specific traffic law to be stopped in the first place.
There are two exceptions to this general rule; a welfare check, and a DUI checkpoint.
A valid reason is not required when you are already pulled over at the side of the road. Officers are required to stop and see if you are ok, and if you need help. This is called a welfare check. Officers also do not need a reason to stop you at a DUI checkpoint also referred to Sobriety Checkpoints.
You are required to stop. However, if you do not want to drive through the checkpoint, you can turn around the other way. This cannot be held against you.
The reason officers cannot stop you for an arbitrary reason is because of your constitutional rights, embodied within our Fourth Amendment rights.
Assuming an officer has a lawful reason to stop you in the first place, he or she then needs reasonable cause to ask you to submit to a breathalyzer. Reasonable cause can be obtained in a few different ways.
Sometimes, law enforcement will question whether you have been drinking. If you say that you have been drinking, this will give an officer reasonable cause to question further. Officers may also obtain reasonable cause through observation.
Examples are: if your breath smells like alcohol, your eyes are bloodshot, if you appear intoxicated, or are slurring. These observations must be clearly documented and stated in the officer’s report regarding the arrest. If it is not, it leaves room open for argument by a DUI lawyer.
Much like the reasons an officer cannot arbitrarily stop you while you are driving, officers cannot arbitrarily ask you to submit to alcohol testing. Your fourth Amendment Constitutional right protects you from unlawful search and seizure.
An officer who arbitrarily stops you and seeks information from you violates this right and your case could be dismissed at the motion stage.
These legal inquiries provide your criminal defense attorneys sufficient argument for a good defense to win your case. Knowledgeable, skilled and experienced attorneys like you will find working at Fiumara and Milligan Law have handled thousands of DUI cases and know the best possible argument for each one of your circumstances.
Our very skilled attorneys handle each client on a case by case basis. We take the time to review the specific facts of your case and take into careful consideration your history to tailor an argument and strong defense that ensures your case the best possible outcome.
Do not hesitate, contact our office today at 707-571-8600! The Consultation is Free & Confidential.
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