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What Happens If You Get Pulled Over For Drunk Driving?

Published on June 22nd, 2023

Memorial Day often signals the start of Summer in the United States, which many like to celebrate with alcohol. Unfortunately, this also leads to a 36% increase in serious or fatal accidents due to drunk driving, which means law enforcement will be more active and look out for impaired drivers.

If you’re pulled over after Memorial Day for drunk driving, there are several things you can expect to happen. Our legal team at Johnson & Goldrich, P.C. will walk you through what you might experience when you get pulled over.

  1. Traffic Stop: Once pulled over, the law enforcement officer will approach the vehicle and ask the driver for their license, registration, and proof of insurance. The officer may also observe the driver’s behavior, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or the smell of alcohol.

  1. Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs): If the officer suspects impairment, they may ask the driver to perform standardized field sobriety tests. These tests typically include the walk-and-turn test, one-leg stand, and horizontal gaze nystagmus (eye movement) test. The purpose of these tests is to assess the driver’s physical and cognitive abilities.

  1. Preliminary Breath Test (PBT): In many jurisdictions, the officer may request a preliminary breath test using a handheld breathalyzer device at the scene. This test provides a rough estimate of the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and helps the officer determine if there is probable cause for an arrest.

  1. Arrest: If the officer has reasonable suspicion that the driver is impaired, based on observations, performance on FSTs, and/or the PBT result, they may proceed with an arrest. The driver will be placed in handcuffs and taken into custody.

  1. Miranda Rights: After the arrest, the officer must inform the driver of their Miranda rights, which include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Anything the driver says from this point forward can be used against them in court.

  1. Transport to Police Station: The driver will be transported to the local police station or a designated testing facility for further testing, booking, and processing. This may involve a ride in a police vehicle or, in some cases, a mandatory blood or breath test.

  1. Chemical Testing: At the police station or testing facility, the driver may be required to undergo a more accurate and legally admissible chemical test to determine their BAC. This can be done through a breathalyzer test or a blood test.

  1. Administrative License Suspension: Depending on the jurisdiction, if the driver refuses to submit to chemical testing or if their BAC is above the legal limit, their driver’s license may be suspended administratively. This is typically an automatic process and can result in the immediate loss of driving privileges.

  1. Booking and Bail: Following the testing process, the driver will be booked, which involves the recording of personal information, fingerprints, and photographs. The driver may then have the opportunity to post bail or be held in custody until their arraignment.

If you’ve been pulled over and charged for possible drunk driving, please contact our law firm for help. Our attorneys can help you retain or regain your driving privileges.

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