Hi, my names Ivan Morse and I'm a criminal defense lawyer. Today, I'm going to be talking about what we should do in the event we are stopped for a DUI. Well for that matter if you're stopped for any crime - it's pretty much the same thing.
Now I have a little bit of experience here, actually a couple things. Number one, I've been a criminal defense lawyer for almost thirty years and before that I was an Oakland police officer. So I've actually seen both sides. So I know what the police officer is thinking and I know what you're thinking if you get stopped. What you're normally thinking is that the police are your friends and they're here to help you because that's what you were taught.
As soon as a police officer walks up to your car and asks you if you have been drinking, the ball game changes. They're no longer your friends. What they're trying to do at that point in time is build a case and here's an adage that you probably heard when you were a child: "Silence is golden." Silence is golden because anything that you say can and will be used against you in the court of law.
When the police come up and as soon as they say to you, "Have you been drinking?" something has led them to believe that you are drinking. Either they observed a slight weave or they think they smell the small odor of alcohol - it doesn't matter. As soon as they say that, you just need to remember silence is golden. You need to remember that under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, under that Bill of Rights section, you have the right to remain silent. So if a police officer asks you have been drinking the thing to do is to say, "You know I really don't want to respond to that." Or you might say, "Why do you ask that question?"
You don't want to answer and you don't want to say yes. That's the one thing that you don't want to do. You're better off just to say nothing. You want to be cooperative, you want to be polite. They're going to ask you for your license and for you registration and proof of insurance and you're going to want to give that to them and that's okay.
Then they're going to ask you to get out of the car and if they ask you to get out of the car, they're going to tell you that they want to conduct some field sobriety tests. Now, they're not going to tell you that you do not have to take those field sobriety tests and they're going to say something to the effect, "well, I just want to make a determination of whether or not you're under the influence of alcohol or not."
Well, I can tell you that that's a ruse, that's not true. They've already decided that you were under the influence of alcohol and now what they want to do is they want to put together a case for the prosecutor so that the prosecutor can prosecute you for a DUI. So you don't have to take those tests and you ought to just say, "No thank you. Thanks but no thanks."
They're also going to ask you if you want to take what's called a preliminary alcohol screening test, that's a little breath machine that they carry with them, its commonly referred to as a pas test. Again, now they're supposed to tell you that you don't have to take that but even if they don't, you should decline. You should not blow into anything at the scene.
You are required to take either a blood test or a breath test. Sometimes, if they suspect drugs, they're going to ask you for a urine test. You are required to take a breath, a blood or urine test and if you don't you'll lose your license for a year automatically. Now, one thing that's very important if you are arrested for a DUI, you need to contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.
There's something else that you need to be aware of: in the state of California as soon as you're arrested for a DUI, if you're a California resident, they're going to take your driver's license and they're going to give you a temporary license. That license is only good for thirty days, but you have to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles within ten days. That's ten calendar days which means Saturdays and Sundays count. If you don't contact the DMV within ten days then what's going to happen is your license is going to be suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles. That's something separate and apart from the criminal justice system and what the criminal justice system wants to do.
It's unfortunate, but in California if you are arrested for a DUI, you have two things going on. The criminal justice system, they want to punish you. What kind of punishment are we talking about here? For a first time DUI, you're talking up to about six months in the county jail. You're talking about a minimum of four days in jail, so it's very serious. If you pick up another DUI within ten years, well now the penalties are even worse and that ignores the collateral damage because if you're convicted of DUIs, your insurance rates are going to go through the roof.
So if you're arrested for a DUI, if at all possible, don't say anything. Remember, silence is golden and if you do that, we're going to have a much better chance. When I say we I mean myself and other criminal defense lawyers who defend people accused of a DUI. I hope this tape has been helpful. If you're arrested for a DUI or again any other matter, remember silence is golden. Be polite, be cooperative but don't answer any questions and in the end contact me, Ivan O.B. Morse. If you have any more questions, call at 925-452-4065 and you can contact me for a free consultation. Thank you, I hope I've answered some questions and I wish you the best of luck.