What should you do if you intend to legally drink and drive?
The following is the opinion of the author and is not intended to give legal advice to any specific person. The reader is advised to seek legal counsel if prosecuted for DUI. This information is of general nature intended for readers age 21 or older and is based on California law.
1. Before you go out, check all brake lights, license plate lights, and look for any minor imperfections a policeman will be able to use for an excuse to stop you.
2. Always be cautious when driving after 11 pm or when crossing the border. Come to full and complete stops — no California stops.
3. If you see a policeman following you, pull into the first place possible without arousing suspicion.
4. If stopped, be respectful at all times.
5. Respectfully decline the field test based on this article stating such tests are subjective and often impossible to do. If you write to us with a self-addressed stamped envelope, we will give you a card to hand to the policeman. If you are afraid they will arrest you immediately and take you downtown, rest assured that since it is impossible for the officer to determine if you are 0.07 percent or 0.08 percent based on your performance on those same field tests, you will be going downtown anyway if you have admitted to drinking anything at all.
6. Do not allow the officer to pass his finger or pen or other objects by your eyes and ask you to follow while not moving your head, as this test very controversial and highly discredited in some scientific circles.
7. Do not blow into the hand-held breath device. A number of people are confusing the small hand-held breath device — about the size of a package of cigarettes — with the larger breath-testing machine usually employed at the police station itself: The hand-held unit is part of the field test and if you are 21 and over, you always should refuse to blow into it, because it may be highly inaccurate, while the blood or breath test at the hospital or police station, on the other hand, is required by law. You must complete one of those two tests: blood or breath. Again, when I talk about you blowing into the breath machine, I absolutely do not mean the small hand-held device in the field. In my opinion, it may read inaccurately and convict you of DUI when you clearly are not. It may, in my opinion, falsely convict you and give you a criminal record for life. I said for life – not just seven or ten years. Note: If you exhibit objective symptoms of drugs, they can require you to take a second blood or urine test if you chose breath as your first option.
8. You will not lose your license automatically for failing to do the field sobriety test under the “Stop and Snatch Laws,” which came into effect July 1, 1990. There is a lot of misinformation in that regard. You do not have to take a roadside breath test either. You still have your choice blood or breath, and you always should choose breath testing down at the station house as your first choice. If you cannot provide a breath sample at the main testing facility, only then allow a blood test. A favorite trick played by the officers is to put a scowl on their face when you explain politely to the officer you know your rights and the law does not require you to blow into the small hand-held unit on the side of the road. Rest assured when they reach the point of having you do a field sobriety test, you will be going downtown no matter what. I have had reports that some officers become so frustrated they have lied and told clients, many of whom are responsible business people, that the law recently changed and now requires they blow into the small hand-held breath machine. Don’t allow yourself to be taken in by this outright lie. If the law changes, the DMV will notify you. Knowledge is power. If you exercise your right to remain silent and refuse to do the roadside acrobatics or any field sobriety test, it will be extremely difficult to almost impossible for the police to make a provable DUI case against you. Also, the officer may get aggressive and snap orders that you now are required to take a blood test downtown. Such is clearly not the law unless you exhibit clear signs of drug intoxication or the breath machine is out of order. Police work, if done professionally, should be a search for the truth. The laws are there for the protection of all. Regarding the “Stop and Snatch Law”: They will take your license if you are arrested and test at 0.08% or higher. The police will issue you a temporary license good for 30 days. Be careful though. You have only 10 days to call the DMV and ask for a hearing; otherwise, your right to drive is gone for four or more months. Your attorney will appear with you at the DMV hearing.
Conclusion: There are many professional officers on the road trying to keep our streets safe. Always be polite, but refuse to do the field tests. There is absolutely no statute or code that requires it.