Should You Admit To A DUI?
"You have the right to remain silent." is perhaps one of the most important constitutional rights. It is there to protect you from knowingly or unwittingly incriminating yourself. Although there are certain exceptions to this right, when you have been stopped for a DUI, arrested or while you are being questioned by an officer of the law, you do retain the right not to answer or respond to any questions.
It is highly recommended not to answer any questions pertaining to how much you have had to drink, where you were prior to driving or other questions that the officer may have. And it is most definitely not advisable to admit to driving under the influence under any of the above mentioned circumstances. Even if you only had one drink over an hour before driving, it is still highly inadvisable not to admit this to an officer.
One or two drinks that have had time to be metabolized by your body may also not necessarily mean that your BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) may be below the legal limit.
Keep in mind that even if what you say is not admitting guilt, you may incriminate yourself in other ways. For example, an officer may take into account slurred speech or your inability to answer basic questions correctly as a sign that you may be intoxicated. These are very good reasons to say as little as possible until you have an attorney present.
However, this does not necessitate remaining entirely silent and answers should be given as to your personal details such as your address. You will also be required to provide your license and registration.
There is another important part of the Miranda Rights that you can use to protect yourself and that is that you have the right to an attorney or lawyer. It is advisable to call a lawyer as soon as possible after being arrested or charged with a DUI. Once again, you should not answer any questions or admit to the DUI until you have consulted with a lawyer or have your lawyer present during questioning.
Keep in mind that it is in your best interests to follow the advice from your lawyer. If your lawyer advises that it would be better for your case if you admit to the DUI while being questioned in order to receive a reduced sentence at a later date, then it is advisable to do so. This would normally be the case if there is sufficient evidence to prove beyond a doubt that you were driving under the influence.
For example, the results of a breathalyzer test, roadside sobriety test and blood alcohol test may prove that you are guilty of driving under the influence. Although you have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test, it is not recommended to do so. This could result in an assumption of guilt and the automatic suspension of your license.
On the other hand, you can refuse the test if you feel that the officer has not followed proper procedure in the traffic stop, did not have sufficient reason to stop you or if he/she is not qualified to perform a breathalyzer test. If you have been asked to submit to a blood test, you should not refuse unless a qualified officer is providing the test.
Should your case go to court, the scenario may change. Although you still retain the right to remain silent, it may be advisable to plead guilty to the DUI charge that has been brought against you. Admitting to the offence can result in a reduction of the penalties especially if this is your first offence.
Your lawyer will be able to advise you as to how a guilty plea will either negatively or positively impact your case. It is up to you whether to follow the advice of your lawyer in pleading guilty or maintaining your innocence.
Under certain circumstances, your lawyer may advise that you not plead guilty even if you were driving under the influence. This would normally be the case if the lawyer feels that you have a good defense against the charges that were brought against you.
A defense may constitute:
- An illegal traffic stop.
- Where the officer did not follow the correct procedures while stopping you, providing the relevant tests or while arresting you.
- If you were not read your Miranda rights while being arrested.
- Should the proper procedures not have been followed in charging you and booking you?
- Should there be insufficient evidence to prove that you were driving under the influence.
- Any other reason that could prove that you are not guilty of the charges being brought against you.
If you have admitted to driving under the influence before being arrested or charged with the misdemeanor, it is even more important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. It may not be too late to withdraw your confession. There may be proof that you admitted to the DUI under duress or that you mistakenly confessed.
However, no matter how you responded verbally, it is even more important not to admit to your DUI in the statement that you will probably be asked to make while you are being processed to be held in jail. A written confession can be much harder to take back, no matter the circumstances. Simply state the facts in your statement and do not admit to driving under the influence as well as to drinking any alcoholic beverages or consuming other substances that may impair your driving ability.
If you were driving under the influence of prescription medication that clearly states that it may cause drowsiness or impair your ability to drive (operate heavy machinery), remember that it is not a defense that the medication was prescribed by a medical doctor. It is also not a good defense that you were unaware of these side effects. It is therefore best not to admit to taking any prescription medication or other drugs prior to or while driving.
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