Knowing Your Legal Rights About DUI Before You Are Pulled Over Doesn’t Make You a Criminal
Before I begin this article, I must admit, I am a little biased. I am a Seattle DUI attorney and Bellevue DUI attorney, and I deal with people every day that fail to appropriately exercise their rights. And not only does it make my job harder, but it makes the likelihood of beating a DUI charge much smaller. And knowing what to do does not make you a criminal, it makes you an informed citizen. The purpose of this article isn’t necessarily to teach you how to get out of a DUI. It isn’t that easy. But what I do want to do is let you know that it is okay to know your rights and exercise those rights when you need to.
Being stopped by the police for any reason is usually a scary proposition. I am a criminal defense attorney, and if I am ever pulled over by the police, even for speeding, I must admit a shot of adrenaline goes through my body. This is because we know powerful police officers are. Not necessarily physically, but by the sheer fact of having a badge to wield. And that means at any given time we know in the back of our minds that police officers can give us a lot of trouble if they want to.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can stand up for yourself in the face of police interrogation and intimidation tactics. And it doesn’t take a strong voice. It doesn’t take a law professor’s knowledge of constitutional law. All it takes is memorizing a couple of hard and fast rules. And if it makes you feel any better, knowing these rules doesn’t have to be so you can get out of criminal charges. It is bigger than that. This knowledge levels the playing field against the police officer. It forces them to do real investigation, find real facts, and draw real conclusions, without the benefit of your twisted words. These rights are yours as a United States citizen, and you should exercise them every chance you get.
But, make no mistake, the police officers are not going to let you off easy with making this decision. They are not used to people knowing the proper way to deal with them (which does not include arguing or talking your way out of a jam), knowing the weak links in their armor. And they will try to fight you (mentally) tooth and nail to prevent you from attacking those weaknesses. Let me give you the primary example of how this works.
Let’s say you are driving home after happy hour in Bellevue. A police officer pulls you over, and you have no idea why. When he gets up to the car he asks for your license and registration, which you give him. Then he says he smells alcohol on your breath and asks if you’ve had anything to drink tonight. You tell him you attorney told you not to answer that question. And you remain silent. And then he lays it on you – the classic comeback – “If you aren’t guilty of anything you should have no reason not to talk to me.”
What you do after that will dictate the rest of your night with this officer. If you start talking, you are on your way to trouble. If you don’t respond to his barb at your ego, then you may be in for a tough night (they don’t like it when you exercise your rights) and you may be arrested for Bellevue DUI, but you will have the upper hand from that point on. And it does not make you a criminal to exercise your rights. George Washington founded this country by exercising his rights against the government. It is the cornerstone of this formation of this country.
Don’t be afraid to find out about your rights, and don’t be afraid to exercise them. The police won’t be happy you did so, but we aren’t really trying to please them, are we?