DUI Frequently Asked Questions

If I fail a breath test why shouldn’t I just plead guilty and not risk taking my case to trial?

If you fail a breath test it does not mean that you will always be found guilty. There are a lot of issues to address even in breath test failure cases. My biggest responsibility is to show the jury that you are on trial for driving while intoxicated – not testing while intoxicated.

I didn’t refuse to take the breath test, so why did the cop say I refused?

The police are taught to call it a refusal if for any reason you do not take a breath test or if you take too long during the administration of the test. With the right lawyer, a breath test refusal can be one of your strongest factors at trial to argue not guilty.

Will the judge be harsher with me if I go to trial and get found guilty?

Legally the judge cannot do that, and in the vast majority of the cases the judge will not. In fact some judges ultimately may sentence you to less time after a jury verdict when they see you and hear the facts of the case. On the other hand, some judges are just as harsh on guilty pleas as on verdicts of guilty.

Why should I take my case to trial?

If you plead guilty you have no hope of being found not guilty.
Pleading not guilty is not a lie. It is a legal answer which the judge will enter for you if you refuse to say anything. Additionally, if you plead not guilty your lawyer has many opportunities to use your due process rights to obtain dismissal or a verdict in your favor. This is a DWI case. For most misdemeanors (even second offenses), the jury will not see you as “public enemy number one.” No one will argue that you are a bad person. You have a right to a trial.

If I plead guilty won’t the record just go away after a while anyway?

Probation is a final conviction. It does not go away – ever.

What signs of intoxication do police officers look for after stopping someone on the roadside?

According to the DWI Detection training manual published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration police officers are taught to look for the following:

Abusive or foul language
Unusual actions
Slowed reactions
Impaired judgment
Impaired vision
Poor coordination
Difficulty exiting the vehicle
Fumbling with drivers license or insurance Repeating questions for comments Swaying, unsteady or balance problems Leaning on the vehicle for support Slurred speech Slow to respond to officer/officer must repeat Odor of alcohol

What do police officers look for when they are looking for drunk drivers?

According to the DWI Detection training manual published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officers are taught to look for the following:
Anything which may draw their attention to the vehicle (especially at night time) such as A moving traffic violation Weaving across a lane Abruptly swerving Turning with too wide a radius Almost striking an object or other vehicle Rapid acceleration or deceleration Driving on the wrong side of the road Slow response to traffic signals Slow or failure to respond to officer’s signals Stopping in a lane for no apparent reason No headlights Driving in an area other than a marked traffic lane Throwing objects out of the car or other inappropriate behavior such as leaning out of the window or yelling out of the window An equipment violation (burned out tail light or burned out license plate light) An expired registration or inspection sticker Any unusual driving actions, such as weaving within a lane or moving at slower than normal speed

What signs of intoxication do police officers look for after stopping someone on the roadside?

According to the DWI Detection training manual published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2004, officers are taught to look for the following:

Slowed reactions
Impaired judgment as evidenced by a willingness to take risks
Impaired vision 
Poor coordination 
Difficulty exiting the vehicle
Fumbling with drivers license or insurance
Repeating questions for comments 
Swaying, unsteady or balance problems 
Leaning on the vehicle for support
Slurred speech 
Slow to respond to officer/officer 
Providing incorrect or changing answers to the same question 
Odor of alcohol