What to Avoid after an Arrest for DUI
Interviewer: What would you say are some of the other top mistakes people make, once they’ve been arrested for DUI?
It Bears Repeating: Avoid Self-Incrimination
Jerald Novak: Well, big mistakes are answering questions, admitting to the consumption of alcohol or drugs, trying to justify the consumption because of some type of illness or some type of legally prescribed medication. If you have legally prescribed medication, if it affects your ability to be a safe and responsible driver, that’s still DUI.
Driving While Using Prescription Medication with or without Alcohol Is Still a DUI
I get that a lot, where someone has a number of different medical conditions, and they’re on a variety of medicines, and they’ll say, “I’m on this ‘x’ medication for my ‘x’ problem, and I’m on this ‘y’ medication for my ‘y’ problem, and I’m on this ‘z’ medication for my ‘z’ problem, and yes, I did have two glasses of wine with dinner.”
Next thing you know, they’re charged with driving under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs. It makes it sound like they’re a drug addict.
You Do NOT Have to Participate in the Field Sobriety Tests
The number one mistake is answering questions. The number two mistake is admitting consumption of any substance. Number three mistake is to participate in any standardized field sobriety testing. The standardized field sobriety testing is a lot like playing “Simon Says.”
Think about this for a second. You’ve never taken these tests before in your life. You’ve never heard these instructions before in your life. You’ve never practiced these tests or taken these tests in your life. It’s 3 o’clock in the morning. It’s the middle of the night. It is pitch black outside. There’s traffic going by. You’re on the side of the road.
Are the Field Sobriety Tests Designed to Elicit a Failing Score?
The police officer demonstrates the test once and maybe he or she explains it properly. Maybe he or she demonstrates it properly or not. You have no opportunity to practice it. You see it only one single time, and your whole life depends on whether you can emulate these tests that this police officer has gone to school for and spent 40 hours practicing. They have 40 hours practicing and you have one shot, one time to get it right. What do you think the chances are that you are going to pass those tests? There is no chance.
So, again, my best advice is to remain polite, don’t answer any questions, and unless you’re under arrest, don’t even get out of the car. If the officer says, “I want you to get out of the car.”
“I’m sorry, sir, I don’t wish to get out of the car.”
Unless the police officer says, “You’re under arrest,” I’m not getting out of the car.
“If I’m under arrest, sir, I’d be happy to get out of the car,” because you don’t want to get charged with resisting arrest.
During a Police Stop, You Have Both Rights ad Obligations
Interviewer: Have you ever had a perfect case where the person said nothing and did everything by the book like you would?
Jerald Novak: Yes, absolutely I have. It was fortunate because I had done a seminar the night before explaining to people what their rights and obligations were. A young woman attended that seminar, and the very next day, she was stopped for a DUI.
She did absolutely everything perfectly. What was even better about her case is that when we subpoenaed the dash cam video, we were able to get the police officer’s conversation. He picked up the radio and called in and said he wasn’t sure if she was under the influence. She wouldn’t get out of the car. She wouldn’t participate in field tests. He didn’t know what to do, if he should arrest her or let her go, and it was actually on the audio portion of the video tape.
That was stunning evidence when we defended her case during trial. The jury heard that and they agreed—there really were no reasonable grounds to arrest her.