The following is taken from an interview with a Prince William DUI lawyer. To learn more about driving under the influence or to discuss your specific case call today and schedule a free consultation.
The trend in Prince William County, and in many other places, is towards more enforcement, more road side stops, more charges and more serious charges resulting from DUI stops.
Gone are the days where an officer pulls someone over who is close to home and they simply let them go on their way. The trend is towards treating DUIs as an increasingly serious crime. It’s treated as one of the more serious crimes that take places in Prince William County.
The trend is towards vigorously enforcing those laws, attempting to apprehend people who are braking those laws, and vigorously prosecuting them. This is not to say that there is never prosecutorial discretion that is used. This not to say that, especially with the assistance of competent counsel, these charges cannot be reduced or dismissed. But there is certainly an attitude among law enforcement, prosecutors, and the community, that this is a serious crime which ought to be prosecuted to the fullest extent.
Every locality is different in some respects, and there are many commonalities as well. The important differences include the procedures law enforcement use locally, including what field sobriety tests are utilized, the policies and tactics of the local Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, and the disposition of the local judges. These are all matters that only someone with local experience can navigate to the benefit of their client.
There a number of common mistakes people make in DUI cases. The most common mistake in DUI cases, and really in all cases, is incriminating yourself by talking to the police. This includes both answering questions and performing tests.
An individual is required by law to identify themselves to police. They are required to show their identification to police. They don’t have to answer questions beyond that. They have the right to remain silent. They have a right to not incriminate themselves through their statements.
A typical mistake would involve the police asking “how much have you had to drink tonight”, and then the individual responding with an incriminating answer. Another typical mistake that individuals make in the course of these stops is performing the field sobriety tests.
Individuals frequently believe that if they can perform these tests successfully, or that if they can get a good result from the preliminary breath test, that they may not end up arrested and that, perhaps, they will be sent on their way. This, however, is the very, very are exception.
Citizens should keep in mind that at the point they have been stopped by the police and are being investigating for DUI, every question that is asked, every test that is performed, everything that is observed by the police officer is for the purpose of building a case against that person. It is for the purpose of attempting to establish there is probable cause to arrest them.
The Fifth Amendment guarantees individuals the right to not incriminate themselves, not to answer questions, and not participate in that process. They should politely decline to do so. This gives them a better chance of not suffering the serious consequences of DUI.
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