DUI Patrols – Orange County 2/13/09 – Criminal Defense Attorney Joe Dane

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced they will be conducting “roving patrols” in Dana Point, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano tonight.  They are targeting drunk drivers (DUI). No specific times were announced, but you can assume it will be in the evening until early morning 2-14-09.

As I have discussed before, just putting the label of a “roving patrol” or “targeted enforcement” doesn’t give the police an excuse not to follow proper procedure.  They must still have a valid reason to stop you.  A traffic stop isn’t somehow legitimate just because they claim to be working a DUI patrol.

If you are stopped, keep in mind that you do not have to answer any questions that may incriminate you.  In any traffic stop, you must present your license, registration and proof of insurance.  Any other questions – “Have you been drinking?”  “Where are you coming from?” or even “Do you know why I stopped you?” could give the police either an incriminating statement or justification to further investigate you further.  There is absolutely no reason you have to answer those questions.  You can politely decline to answer, rather than help the police gather evidence against you. Remember – this is a “detention” and the police are not required to give you your Miranda rights before asking these questions.

Similarly, field sobriety tests are not mandatory.  See this post for more detailed information, but you are NOT required to perform any of the roadside sobriety tests in a DUI investigation.  The only thing that is required is an official chemical test to determine your blood alcohol level if you are arrested for DUI.  The roadside breath machine, unless it is done after you are arrested, is not required.  Why would you give them evidence they can use to arrest you and ultimately prosecute you.

If you do find yourself getting arrested for DUI, you do have to submit to the chemical test as required by law or face a mandatory suspension of your driver’s license.  Even if you refuse to voluntarily submit to a chemical test, the police can force a blood sample from you – by physical force if necessary.

If you are arrested, you must take action within 10 days with the DMV to request a hearing with them.  If you do not request a hearing to contest the suspension of your license, your license will be suspended, even if you are not prosecuted for DUI.

For more information, see the links below.  Be safe.

General DUI information

Proving the elements of DUI

Miranda rights and DUI

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