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DWI Advice: Rule One is Don't Drink and Drive.

First bit of advice:  Don’t drink and drive. 

If you have had anything to drink, get a ride. Call a cab. Check out Uber or CarGO.  Take the shoe leather express if you have to.

That being said, people make mistakes. No one plans on getting arrested for Driving While Intoxicated. Most of the time, many of our clients who get charged with DWI have never before run afoul of the law. In fact, approximately 80% of those who do get a DWI, never get charged with a second offense. Most first-time DWI offenders have no criminal history whatsoever. 

However, with Missouri DWI laws getting stricter every year, many ordinary law-abiding citizens can find themselves on the wrong side of the law. If you slip up, have a few drinks, and get pulled over, there is some important information you need to know to protect your rights, your driving privileges, and your future.

Your Right to Remain Silent.

If you get pulled over after having a drink or two, do not tell the officer (1) if you have been drinking, or (2) how much you have had to drink. You don't have to lie. Simply refuse to answer any questions about your alcohol consumption.  The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects your right against self-incrimination. 

You don't have to answer any questions or volunteer information to law enforcement if you choose not to. Remember, anything you say will find its way into a police report to be used against you. I recommend politely telling the officer that you do not want to answer any questions or give any statements until you speak to an attorney.

Roadside Field Sobriety Tests are not Mandatory.

Roadside Field Sobriety Tests are a series of physical exercises that law enforcement officers use to determine if your coordination, reaction time, and ability to pay attention have been impaired by alcohol. These tests usually consist of walking a line in a heel-to-toe fashion, balancing on one leg for 30 seconds, reciting the alphabet, focusing your eyes on a moving object, and taking a hand-held, portable breath test.  

If you get pulled over after having a drink or two, politely refuse to do these tests - that includes declining to take the portable breath test. These tests are not mandatory and there are no criminal penalties for refusing them. I repeat:  you cannot get into any trouble by refusing field sobriety tests! 

The truth is that roadside field sobriety tests are simply a way for police and prosecutors to build a case against you. These tests are very difficult to perform when you are nervous, standing alongside a dark roadway.

Furthermore, you will not be told by the officer how your performance will be assessed. Think about that for a moment. Have you ever taken any kind of test where you didn't know how you would be graded? The officer giving the test will not tell you how they are grading your performance. They simply recite the instructions, often incorrectly, and ask you to perform the test accordingly.

Do you often practice balancing on one leg with your hands at your sides for 30 seconds in the dark? Do you walk heel-to-toe along an imaginary straight line with your arms at your side? Of course not. When it comes to roadside field sobriety tests, the deck is stacked against you. Since they are not legally required (or scientifically valid), politely decline to do them.

Please understand that we do not condone drunk driving. But we also do not condone giving up your rights and surrendering your freedom, hard-earned money, and driving privileges just because a police officer has accused you of breaking the law. You have rights. Know how to exercise them.

We hope you find this information useful and informative. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. Be safe. Thanks for reading.

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