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What If I Was Pulled Over For Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)?

Car Accident Lawyer

Being pulled over and arrested for a DWI, means that the officer believes you were intoxicated by some substance, whether that be alcohol or drugs. It is illegal to operate a vehicle while influenced by drugs or alcohol, as this can decrease a person’s ability to make good judgement calls while also slowing their reactivity, among other impairments. Depending on your state laws, the definition of a DWI and it’s subsequent consequences can vary a bit, so it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney for more details. 

Do I have to take a blood, urine, or breathalyzer test if I am stopped for a DWI?

A driver does have to right to refuse a blood test, urine test, or breathalyzer test if they are halted for a potential DWI. But, most states will view this as “implied consent”, where a refusal to take the test results in a license suspension for up to a year. The prosecution may argue to the jury or judge that you didn’t take the test because you were indeed under the influence. However, this consequence may even still apply for drivers who were found not guilty of driving while intoxicated. 

What are the methods that officers use to determine if someone is DWI?

An officer may initially notice a vehicle driving erratically, such as swerving, failing to stop, speeding, or even driving excessively slow. Upon this observation, the officer may pull over the driver on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. It is possible that the driver was just tired or distracted. But, the officer may then ask the driver to get out of their vehicle and perform tests for balance, speech, and recitement. For example, the officer may have the driver walk in a straight line, stand on one leg, touch their finger to their nose with eyes closed, or recite the alphabet.

The other method that is likely to be used is a breathalyzer, to calculate how much alcohol is present in the driver’s system. Unfortunately, an incorrect reading can happen if the breathalyzer had malfunctioned or not been properly calibrated beforehand. 

Do I have to answer the officer’s questions if he or she hasn’t read me my rights?

This depends on whether or not you are in police custody. An officer does not have to read you your rights when asking questions along the road after being pulled over. But, if you are arrested or restrained by the officer, then your rights have to be read to you.

Those who have been arrested for a DWI are encouraged to get legal help right away. Your lawyer can go over with you how your arrest happened, to ensure that you were read your rights at the correct times. If it is found that the officer failed to state you Miranda rights, then you may be able to have your charges dropped. The best way to find out if you have a chance at a dropped or decreased charge, is to consult with a DWI attorney in DC who has represented clients in criminal defense cases. 



Thanks to The Law Firm of Frederick J. Brynn, P.C. for their insight into criminal law and being pulled over while intoxicated.