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DUI Defense Lawyer Sturgis, SD
A DUI defense lawyer Sturgis, SD clients recommend knows that while a DUI traffic stop can occur at any time, there are certain times of the year that police ramp up the number of DUI traffic stops they conduct. This is especially true during many major holidays when family and friends like to gather and celebrate.
No matter what time of the year a DUI traffic stop happens, it is important for people to be aware of their rights during a DUI stop. People have two main rights that are pertinent to traffic stops, the right to remain silent and the right not to consent to a search.
The Right to Remain Silent
A person’s right to remain silent allows them to refuse to answer police questions during a traffic stop. This means that when the officer asks if the driver has been drinking or where the driver is coming from, the driver is not under any obligation to answer. However, invoking this right involves practical issues. Refusing to cooperate with the officer is technically allowed but may make the traffic stop more difficult. Consequently, a driver’s being polite and courteous is key, when exercising these rights.
This right extends to refusing field sobriety tests as well. Police will often request that people perform some sort of physical challenge or coordination test to determine if they are sober. While refusing these tests will likely result in a long traffic stop, it makes it more difficult for the state to pursue a DUI conviction.
Importantly, the right to remain silent is not the same as the right to lie. While the driver does not need to answer the officer’s questions, the information they do choose to provide must be truthful. Further, the right to remain silent also has an exception. The law requires drivers to produce their driver’s license, a copy of their registration, and proof of insurance upon an officer’s request.
The Right Not to Consent to a Search
In addition to the right to remain silent, drivers also have the right to refuse to give the officer permission to search their vehicle. This is not the same as a right not to have the vehicle searched. The officer may still search the car if they have probable cause to suspect something illegal, but evidence from unconsented searches is harder for the state to use at trial. Your Sturgis DUI defense lawyer will be able to determine if the officer did have probable cause and whether the search was a legal one.
This right not to consent to a search also affects whether a person must submit to a breathalyzer test. People do have the right to refuse such a test, however, South Dakota has an “implied consent” law, which means such a refusal could result in a driver’s license suspension. Still, that may be preferable to a DUI conviction.
Should a Driver Submit to Field Sobriety Tests?
A DUI defense lawyer Sturgis, SD clients turn to knows that one of the most heart-stopping moments in a person’s life is when they are driving along and all of a sudden they hear the siren and see the blue lights flashing behind them. That stress can really skyrocket when you realize that the reason why the officer is pulling you over is that they believe you are under the influence of alcohol. The Law Offices of Clayborne, Loos & Sabers LLP have successfully defended hundreds of clients arrested for DUI and know that there are certain sobriety tests that a driver should not consent to.
Police use chemical tests to measure a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If that BAC is 0.08 percent or more, the driver can be arrested for drunk driving. Unfortunately, under South Dakota implied consent laws, a driver who refuses to submit to a breathalyzer or other chemical test will likely lose their license for one year, regardless of the outcome of the criminal charges filed against them. In other words, if you refuse a chemical test, the police charge you with drunk driving, a jury finds you not guilty or the charges are dropped, you will still lose your license for one year for refusing the test.
The implied consent law means that when a person accepts a driver’s license from the state, then they are agreeing that any time they drive a vehicle, they are automatically consenting to a chemical test if a police officer requests they submit to one.
However, even with the implied consent law and potential loss of license, a Sturgis DUI defense lawyer recommends that drivers refuse the test. The results of the test could prove the prosecutor’s case that you had been drinking, leaving a limited, if any, defense to fight the charges.
Field Sobriety Tests
Police officers also try to get drivers to submit to field sobriety tests, however, submitting to these tests is not required and DUI defense lawyers do not recommend agreeing to comply with the requests. These tests are highly subjective on the part of the police officer. A Sturgis DUI defense lawyer knows that these tests can also be difficult for a person who is not intoxicated, yet erroneously indicate to the officer that the driver has been drinking.
The three most common field sobriety tests are:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus – This is an involuntary jerking of the eyeball when the eyes are rotated at high angles. This occurs in everyone, but if a person is under the influence of alcohol, the eye jerking is more exaggerated and happens at lesser angles than in someone who is sober.
- Walk-and-turn test – The driver is asked to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line, turn on one foot and return nine steps in the opposite direction.
- One-leg stand test – The driver is asked to stand on one foot, with the other foot about six inches off the ground. In this position, the driver is told to count up from 1,001 until the officer says to put their foot down, typically about 30 seconds.
Contact Our Office Today
If you have been charged with drunk driving, you need an aggressive Sturgis DUI defense lawyer advocating for you. Call The Law Offices of Clayborne, Loos & Sabers LLP to schedule a free consultation.
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