Many of our clients are worried about the statements they make to an officer during a DUI stop. Generally the officer must have a reason to stop you while you are driving. This reason can be any violation of the vehicle code. For example,sif you are missing a license plate, your headlights are not on when they should be, or you are speeding, the officer has a right to pull you over and write you up for the violation.
In the process of pulling you over, if the officer suspects that you are intoxicated he may also ask you if you have been drinking, and if he has enough evidence to support a reasonable suspicion that you have, he or she has the right to ask you to submit to an alcohol screening test. However, the officer MUST have enough evidence to questions you for a DUI.
The officer can gather evidence based on observations. This would mean that if a person exhibits signs of intoxication and the officer reasonably feels there is a good chance the person is intoxicated, they can proceed with a DUI investigation. If the officer does not have enough evidence to support their suspicion of intoxication, the officer has no right to proceed with questioning regarding a DUI.
When a person offers statement that admits they have been drinking, it gives the officer the supporting evidence they need to proceed with a DUI investigation. The issue of adequate evidence to comprise reasonable suspicion never arises, because the driver has admitted through their own statements that they have been drinking.
Let’s consider two examples. In the first example David is driving without his headlights on, and is pulled over by officers. He is returning home from dinner where he had 2 beers. When pulled over for no headlights the officer asks him if he knows why he has been pulled over and proceeds to explain that it was because his headlights are not on.sDavid exhibits no signs of intoxication. He does not smell of beer, he does not have watery eyes and he is not slurring. The officer asks if David has had anything to drink, to which David responds that he prefers to just have the officer write him up for driving without headlights and get going.
In this situation David has not admitted to drinking and he is exhibiting no signs of intoxication. The officer has no evidence to support a reasonable suspicion that David is driving while intoxicated. The officer has no choice but to let David go on his way.
In a second example, lets assume that David is heading home from dinner, where he had 2 beers. He exhibits no signs of intoxication and probably has a BAC lower than .08%. The officer pulls him over for not having his headlights on. The officer asks David if he had been drinking. David quickly responds that he only had two beers and nothing more. This is enough evidence for the officer to ask David to submit to a BAC test. Even though David is not too intoxicated and is probably under the .08% BAC limit, he may still be charged with a DUI and taken into custody.
Admissions made on the driver’s part could make a big difference in a case. When statements are not made, it leaves an additional element that prosecutors must prove. Consult with a Los Angeles DUI specialist to understand the strength and weaknesses of your case.s