Being stopped by the police on your way home after a night out can be a very stressful experience. If the police suspect that you have been drinking the police will likely begin investigating you for Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated (DUI / OVWI). A typical OVWI investigation follows this same basic format.
The officer will ask where you are coming from, where you have been and whether or not you have been drinking. Why are the police asking you these questions? Because the police would very much like for you to make incriminating statements such as, “I am coming from a bar where I drank six beers.” Remember, silence is golden. At all times you have the right to remain silent. You have no duty to tell the police anything except your identity and to provide them with identifying paperwork such as driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. If you choose to not answer the police’s questions, do so politely. One way to do this is, “Officer, I am going to invoke my right to remain silent at this point.”
After this brief question period, the officer will ask you to exit your vehicle and perform Field Sobriety Tests. Field Sobriety Tests are a quick way for the police to determine if a person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. While these tests are helpful to the police they are not so helpful to the people performing the tests. If you fail even one of the Field Sobriety Tests, the police will use that failure as further evidence you were intoxicated. If you politely decline to take the Field Sobriety Tests then there will be that much less evidence the police have against you. You have the right to decline the Field Sobriety Tests. And your refusal to take the Field Sobriety Tests cannot be used against you in court.
After asking you to do the Field Sobriety Tests the police will ask you to blow into a Portable Breath Machine. If you blow into the Portable Breath Machine and there is alcohol in your system the police now have additional evidence against you. You have the right to decline the portable breath test. And your refusal to blow into the Portable Breath Test cannot be used against you in court.
Lastly, the police are going to read you Indiana’s Implied Consent Lawand ask you to submit to a Chemical Test. This is serious business. While you have the right to refuse the Chemical Test, there are two serious legal consequences for doing so. The first is that there is an automatic suspension of your license for at least one year. The second is that your refusing to take the chemical test can be used against you at trial. And if you refuse, it is possible the police can obtain a warrant for your blood. On the other hand, cases without the field sobriety tests, no breath and no blood are statistically the hardest for the State to prove.
Attorney Marc Lopez represents individuals accused of drunk driving in the Indianapolis, Indiana area. He is a former Prosecutor with the Marion County Prosecutor’s office and was assigned to the DUI / OVWI Unit. If you or a loved one is arrested for DUI / OVWI call Attorney Marc Lopez today at (317) 489-9611 or contact him through e-mail.