Rights During a Prince William County DUI Stop

A person who operates a motor vehicle on Prince William County’s highways has impliedly consented to giving a sample of their breath or blood upon their arrest for suspicion of DUI. In other words, if an officer charges a person with DUI, they would be placed under arrest and taken to jail or the police station. There, they would be required to sit in front of a breath machine and blow into it to allow the police to determine their level of intoxication.

Unreasonably refusing to do this can lead to additional consequences such as a refusal charge, which carries a conviction and a mandatory 12-month license revocation without permissions to go to and from work or school. For this reason, understanding your rights during a Prince William County DUI stop is imperative to protecting your liberties and avoiding a conviction. Consider asking an attorney about how DUI stops and checkpoints typically unfold to better prepare for an encounter with law enforcement.

Consenting to a Vehicle Search

If an officer asks someone for permission to search their vehicle, the answer should always be no. An officer’s choice to search their vehicle anyway depends on whether they have probable cause to do so. Law enforcement does not need a warrant to search someone’s car, but they do need probable cause.

If the person has not yet been arrested but is asked for permission to search, they should say no. They are never under an obligation to waive their Fourth Amendment Rights, which protect them from unreasonable search and seizure. The officer might do it anyway, but they typically choose not to because they understand that police will tow a person’s vehicle once they are placed under arrest.

Furthermore, police have the absolute right to conduct an inventory search of a vehicle to make sure that there is nothing dangerous or explosive in the car that would render it unsafe for towing. Law enforcement officers would search a person’s vehicle after they have been arrested, regardless of whether they have probable cause to do so beforehand.

Asking to Speak to a Lawyer

A person stopped for a DUI can ask to speak to a lawyer anytime, but police are not obligated during the stop to connect them with an attorney. As a result, law enforcement can flatly refuse any requests to speak with legal counsel.

They do not have a right to an attorney at that time because they are under an investigatory detention by the police. Once they are arrested and taken to the jail, they do have the right to call a lawyer. The only time that they are entitled to speak to an attorney is after they are placed under arrest. During a traffic stop, a person is not under arrest. Therefore, they do not have the automatic right to cease the investigation and talk to an attorney at that time.

Reading Your Miranda Rights

The Supreme Court has held that an officer is not required to advise a person of their rights to remain silent until they are actually in police custody. A Prince William County DUI stop is considered an investigatory detention and not full custody as it relates to the Fifth Amendment Right to remain silent. Only after a person is in full custody is it required for the police to advise them of their Miranda rights.

Mistakes to Avoid During a DUI Stop

It is important to refrain from answering any questions beyond their name and other basic identifying information. If an officer asks them if they have been drinking and they have, the answer should be, “I do not want to answer any questions.” A person should exercise their Fifth Amendment Right and remain silent. The goals is not to lie to the police, but rather just explaining that you are invoking your right under the Fifth Amendment to remain silent.

The biggest mistake that people make is admitting to drinking. After that, it almost does not even matter what the breath test reveals, but an admission of drinking particularly when accompanied by driving behavior that appears to indicate impairment makes the Commonwealth’s job easier at trial. For more advice on how to exercise your rights during a Prince William County DUI stop, get in touch with an attorney who is familiar with these cases.