Commonly asked questions regarding DUI arrests, punishments, and what to expect in court.
Below are some commonly asked questions regarding DUIs and license suspensions. However this list is not exhaustive. If you have any other questions please schedule an appointment for a FREE consultation or contact us through our online form.
What are the common field sobriety tests?
If you are pulled over for a DUI, the officer will ask you to do certain field sobriety tests. These tests are VOLUNTARY and you have NO OBLIGATION to perform any of them. In fact, I recommend that you do not perform any of the field sobriety tests. These tests are designed to gather evidence for a DUI arrest and conviction – they are not designed to let you go home. Once an officer believes he smells alcohol or believes he’s detected (subjective) signs of impairment, your arrest is almost imminent. Common field sobriety tests include:
Walk and Turn: You will be asked to walk in a straight line, heel to toe, for nine steps, turn as demonstrated by the officer, and then walk back nine steps heel to toe. The officer will note each time you walk off line, miss heel to toe, raise your arms, fail to turn exactly as instructed, walk the incorrect number of steps, start or stop too soon, lose balance, sway, and anything else the officer thinks is noteworthy. As you can see there are numerous clues that the officer can use to claim that you are impaired.
One Leg Stand: In this test, the officer will have you stand and then raise one leg about six inches off the ground, and maintain that position until he says stop (usually approximately 30 seconds). The officer will note each time you sway, raise your arms, raise or lower your foot, hop, and anything else the officer thinks is noteworthy. Once again, as you can see there are numerous clues that the officer can use to claim that you are impaired.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: The office will place a pen or lighted object approximately 15 inches from your face and asked that you follow the movements of the pen with your eyes only without moving your head. The officer will be looking for any jerking of the eyes that may indicate alcohol impairment. Any jerking of the eyes, head movement or failure to following the pen are noted, as well as anything else the officer thinks is noteworthy. As you can see there are numerous clues that the officer can use to claim that you are impaired.
Portable Breath Test: At some point during your encounter, the officer will ask you to blow into a small breath analyzer. The portable breath test was indicate whether you have an amount of alcohol in your system, and a positive reading is further used to justify an arrest.
Other nonstandard tests may include reciting the alphabet and touching your nose. As mentioned earlier, I recommend not taking ANY of the field sobriety tests.
What is an administrative license suspension?
At the time of arrest, if the officer keeps your license its almost a certainty that he will try to administratively suspend your license. If so, you have 10 days to request an administrative hearing to save your license. If you fail to request a hearing, your license will be suspended 30 days after the date of arrest for up to one year.
The administrative license suspension may occur prior to your DUI case being resolved in court. If a hearing is requested, the administrative law judge will determine whether there is a valid refusal, whether the driver’s blood alcohol content was greater than 0.08 if over 21, greater than 0.02 if less than 21, or greater than 0.04 if the person has a commercial driver’s license. This suspension can last to up to one year.
If my license is suspended because I am convicted of DUI can I get a work permit or temporary license?
Yes and no. It depends on how many DUI convictions you have had in the last 5 years. If this is your first DUI conviction you may be eligible for a “work permit” which is valid for 120 days. During this 120 days, you will be required to attend and complete the DUI Defensive Driving Course and provide proof to the Department of Driver Services in order to regain full driving privileges.
While driving on the “work permit” you will be allowed to drive to and from work, school, probation, court, and other designated places.
If you have other DUI convictions in the past five years, you will not be eligible for a temporary license until certain criteria are satisfied. An interlock device may be required once you become eligible for a work permit.
Will I go to jail if convicted of DUI?
My goal is that no client spends additional time in jail after a DUI arrest. However jail time is a possibility and could happen if you are not careful. DUI offenses are one of the few misdemeanor offenses that carry mandatory jail time. Most of the time, particularly if its a first offense, we are able to convince the prosecutor to give our client “time served” with no additional jail time. However, in some jurisdictions, we have to fight in order to get no jail time for our clients, even on a first offense.
Matters became more complicated when a person has prior multiple DUI convictions. Mandatory jail time increases with each subsequent conviction, meaning that we really have to fight to keep clients out of jail.
I blew less than the legal limit 0.08. Why did I still get arrested and charged with DUI?
You can still be charged with DUI even if you blow less than the legal limit of 0.08. This can occur if the officer believes that you have had enough alcohol to where you are a “less safe driver”. The officer will rely on driving observations and other circumstantial evidence to make a case for DUI. The underlying premise allowing this charge of DUI is that alcohol effects different individuals differently. The punishment and ramifications of a “less safe” DUI are the same as an over 0.08 DUI.
Can I go to court and represent myself?
Yes you can but I strongly advise against it. DUI cases are complicated and require to expertise of a seasoned DUI attorney to get the best outcome possible for you set of circumstances. A DUI attorney will know when and how to protect your rights by filing and arguing certain motions that could possibly get your dui dismissed or reduced. Also, I you go to trial, you must have an attorney with the experience to fight an experienced prosecutor. Prosecutors and judges are not going to take it easy on you simply because you have no attorney. You will be expected to know the rules of criminal procedure and held to the same standards as an attorney. Remember, this isn’t traffic court – you may be facing dire consequences in your dui case. Although an attorney may seem expensive, going to court without an attorney could very well cost you more in the end.