You just left your friend’s football party. You were on your way home and got caught by a roadblock. Or maybe you stopped for drinks with your co-workers and got pulled over because you had a headlight out. It is something that most people have experienced. That moment when you see blue lights behind you and you think, “I only had a few drinks…”
These days a single charge of Driving Under the Influence can change your life. But with a little knowledge, and the help of an attorney, you can minimize the damage.
Below are a few things that you might not have considered about a DUI charge before:
- What was the reason for the stop? In order for an officer to stop you, he or she must have a reasonable suspicion that you are breaking the law. We usually think of someone getting pulled over for swerving between lanes or otherwise driving erratically. However, sometimes it starts out a little more innocently. Maybe you’re pulled over for having a headlight out. Then other factors must be present: Did the officer smell alcohol? Are there open containers in the car?
- Were you caught in a roadblock? Roadblocks are allowed under Alabama law. However, police officers must go through very specific steps to ensure that the roadblock does not violate your 4th Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure. Usually this requires a written plan that has been approved by the necessary supervisor. This plan must detail sufficient guidelines, must be followed by the officers conducting the roadblock, and must be supervised.
- Field Sobriety Testing. You are probably familiar with the three standardized field sobriety tests: (1) the Walk and Turn – “walk a straight line putting one foot in front of the other then turn and walk back”; (2) the One Leg Stand – “stand on one leg for 30 seconds”; and (3) the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus [HGN] – “follow this pen with your eyes without moving your head.” However, have you ever considered the factors that can make these tests difficult even when you’re sober? Are you 65 or older? Are you 50 lbs. or more overweight? Do you have back or leg problems? Do you have inner ear problems or a head injury? All of these things can decrease your ability to successfully complete field sobriety testing even when you are sober.
- Psychological Factors. Even when we know that we have done nothing wrong, seeing those blue lights and hearing that siren behind us naturally causes our anxiety to rise. Whether it is the fear of arrest or just the public embarrassment of being pulled over, it affects us psychologically. When we perceive something as a threat, our body enters a fight or flight mode. Our body releases adrenaline, and all energy is focused on personal preservation. This natural reaction developed to protect us from danger can cause behavior that can be improperly perceived as impairment.
There are so many factors involved in a DUI arrest that it can be overwhelming. Emotions are high, and there is a lot at stake. You may spend the night in jail, maybe longer if you can’t afford the bail. You may face extraordinary fines or even imprisonment. You may lose your license. You may lose your job.
Don’t face these charges alone. Let one of our Huntsville DUI defense attorneys help defend you and your future. Call us today at (256) 429-9492.