Dear Officer Friendly,
What should I do if I get pulled over for being under the influence. Can they look in my car? Can they toss it? What rights do I have and how far can the cops push it?
In most states, a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .080 is considered to be legally intoxicated. Obviously, if you have been drinking and cannot wait the necessary time to allow the alcohol in your system to dissipate, let someone else drive. It takes one hour for every ounce of alcohol consumed. One ounce of alcohol is considered to be a”Shot” (1 oz.) of 80-proof liquor, 12 oz. of beer, or 4 oz. of table wine. The average drinker’s elimination is 0.015% per hour.
If you are stopped, cooperate with the cops. No need to make a bad situation worse. There are things you could do to possibly avoid the detection of alcohol on your breath but I don’t want to teach anyone how to possibly get away with drinking and driving. The officer will have observed your driving and may have already made the assumption that you are under the influence. That being the case he will want to look at your eyes and smell your breath and both are legal requests
Next he will ask you to step from the vehicle and administer a field sobriety test (FST). If you are unable to complete or satisfactorily complete the test he will arrest you. He might give you a PAS or preliminary alcohol screening test. This is a hand held device that you will be asked to blow into and will read the BAC of your breath.
If you are arrested, there is a good chance that your car will be towed. If the vehicle is towed it maybe searched for inventory purposes. That is, to make sure an inventory of valuables is taken in case of theft at the tow yard. Yeah right, I just want to snoop around in your car but this is a legal justification. Also, your vehicle is subject to search upon arrest. The inside of your car was under your control, therefore, it may contain evidence of the crime, i.e. an open container or a joint. The other thing that will be searched is your person.
At the station/jail you will be asked to provide a chemical test: breath, blood or urine. In most states, acceptance of your drivers license comes with an “implied consent” that you will provide the chemical test or face a minimum one year suspended license. By the way, the average cost for a DUI where the defendant pleads guilty is in excess of $7000.
Have you ever driven after drinking, thinking you probably should have stayed parked at the curb?
How did that go for you?