Understanding Your Legal Rights in DUI Cases

DUI Lawyers Defending Our Clients’ Legal Rights in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Throughout the State

When someone is stopped for suspicion of drunk driving or DUI, that individual has legal rights although he/she may not be aware of it. As a highly regarded Michigan DUI defense firm, we want you to understand what your legal rights are when pulled over by police for suspicion of drunk driving.

The fact that you are pulled over and possibly driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs does not negate the fact that you have legal rights. You are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Three factors you must keep in mind if you are stopped include:

  • You are not required to submit to field sobriety tests
  • You do not have to admit that you have consumed alcohol/drugs
  • It is your legal right to have the stop recorded

Knowing your rights could prevent an arrest, or be beneficial to your defense should you be charged with drunk driving or DUI.

Your Legal Rights if Stopped for Suspicion of Drunk Driving

Your Right to Remain Silent

As experienced and trusted Michigan drunk driving attorneys, we want to stress the importance of not saying anything that will further incriminate you. The Constitution guarantees you the right to remain silent; although there is some information you should provide the officer such as your name, address, or other identifying information. When asked whether you have been drinking or questioned about anything that could potentially lead to your arrest, remain silent and contact an attorney immediately.

Your Right to Have a Lawyer Present

This right is extremely important, as you should always have your lawyer present before answering any questions or providing police with information. Before cooperating with an investigation, request the presence of your attorney. If you have answered some questions and later decide to request a lawyer, all questioning must stop at that moment.

Your Rights Regarding Roadside or Field Sobriety Tests

While you are required by law to step out of your vehicle when asked by police, you are not required to submit to roadside or field sobriety tests. In fact, submitting to field sobriety tests could further incriminate you. You are required under Michigan law to submit to a chemical test (blood, urine, breath), however you do not have to submit to the breath test often administered roadside (also referred to as a PBT, or preliminary breath test). If you do refuse the PBT however, you may be fined up to $150 and/or charged with a civil infraction. Refusing sobriety tests will not result in fines or additional charges; however always refuse any tests in a calm, respectful manner.

Your Rights in Regards to a Search

While a police officer may legally search your vehicle, person, and the immediate area around you upon an arrest, you should never sign a consent-to-search form if requested by police. You are not required to give your permission for any search. In addition, police may only perform an in-depth search of your vehicle when they have reasonable suspicion that your vehicle contains contraband.

Miranda Warnings

You have likely watched a television show in which someone was being read his or her Miranda warning, stating that "anything you say can be used against you . . . you have the right to have an attorney present, etc." When a police officer decides to place you under arrest, he/she must read you your Miranda warning. If you have not been arrested and are still in the investigation stages, police are not required to read your Miranda warning. Having a police officer fail to read your Miranda rights upon your arrest will only benefit you if you answered questions while in custody, and those answers or statements may further incriminate you.

Having the Stop Recorded

If you feel that you are fairly sober and not in any way drunk when stopped, you have the right to request that the stop be recorded. Not only does this demonstrate your confidence that you are capable of operating your vehicle, it may work to your advantage considering that your actions and behavior during the stop is captured on tape. However, unless you are extremely confident that you are not in any way impaired, do not request a recording of the stop.

As highly regarded Michigan criminal defense lawyers, we know that for individuals stopped on suspicion of DUI or drunk driving, knowledge is power. Know your rights, and contact an experienced attorney at Grabel & Associates immediately. We are available 24/7, so call our toll-free number now at 1-800-783-4448. Contact us online.