There’s never a good excuse for drinking and driving. If you are pulled over as a suspect for a DUI, though, you do still have rights. Below are four of the rights of which you should be aware of before and after you are arrested.
Search and Seizure Rights
Your rights actually start before you are ever pulled over. The Constitution guarantees those who live in the United States freedom from unwarranted search and seizure. This means that the police can only pull you over if they have a reasonable cause for doing so – they can’t simply decide to pull over every car on a given stretch of road. Once you’re pulled over, the police can also only search your vehicle with your consent unless they have probable cause to believe that you’ve committed a crime.
The Right to Remain Silent
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to answer every question the police ask you during your stop. Depending on your jurisdiction you may be required to comply with questions about your name and address, but you’ll rarely have to answer anything else. While the police may take you into custody, it’s absolutely your right to say that you’d be more comfortable speaking to the police with a lawyer present.
The Right to an Attorney
Americans are also guaranteed the right to an attorney during criminal trials. With this said, you also have the right to criminal defense even before your trial starts. It is perfectly legal to ask to have a lawyer present when the police question you and you cannot be denied the help of an attorney as you move through the legal process. Remember, the cops cannot negotiate a deal for you, though many will claim they will to get you to waive your right to legal counsel. Even if you have done nothing wrong, say nothing until you have an attorney by your side.
The Right to a Trial
Finally, you do have the right to a trial. While you do have the right to an attorney long before this point, the court must appoint you an attorney upon your request if you are unable to afford one on your own when you go to trial. You have the right to see the evidence presented against you, to cross-examine any witnesses, and to provide your own side of the story. DUI cases are not nearly as open and shut as some might think, and a trial may prove that you were innocent.
Don’t drink and drive. If you do, though, try to remember that you still have rights. Keep in mind that the legal system may not necessarily work in your favor, but that you are still due fair treatment during the process.
Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.