Being arrested for driving under the influence presents a driver with two challenges. First, they have all the problems of a car accident, including potential loss of their vehicle and even their license. Two, they have all the added problems of being arrested, including arranging for bail, mounting a defense and dealing with the potential of losing the case.
Either of these problems on their own can be devastating for the average person. Both of them combined can be catastrophic. Since a DUI charge is a big enough problem on its own, there is no reason anyone would want to make it worse. Nevertheless, some people do in fact make mistakes after their arrest that lead to even bigger issues than the original problem.
It has been said by men far wiser than most the easiest question a defense attorney will ever have to answer in their career is “should I talk to the police?” The answer is an unqualified no. Leaving aside the potential for entangling one’s self in legal matters that may not even be known to the suspect at the time, anything said to the police can be used against the suspect without limitation.
Further, since nothing a suspect says during an interrogation can be used to help them at trial due to the evidentiary restrictions on hearsay, there is nothing to be gained by answering any questions until the counsel of a qualified attorney can be obtained.
Anyone arrested for any crime must understand the only purpose of the police interrogation is to gather evidence to be used to convict the suspect at trial. They are not trying to help. They are not your friends. They want to hand the transcript of the interrogation to the prosecutor with an open and shut case printed on it.
Under no circumstances should a criminal defendant or suspect consent to any search of their person or property. At the very least, anyone arrested for driving under the influence should seek counsel before even discussing potential searches of their property or possessions. A defense attorney will be able to evaluate the warrant application, contest it if necessary, and supervise the search in the event a warrant is issued.
Without these basic provisions, a defendant or suspect may end up handing over evidence the police and prosecution have no authority to seize. In some cases, that evidence can be both damaging and conclusive and make it very difficult for any competent defense to prevail.
Some states have laws regarding tests of a suspects blood or breath during an investigation for driving under the influence. Some of these laws have penalties for suspects who refuse to consent to being tested. In such situations, it is imperative that an attorney be consulted so the defendant can make an informed decision regarding their rights and responsibilities.
Not Retaining Counsel
It is virtually impossible for the average person to navigate a criminal prosecution for driving under the influence. There are simply too many details and too many unfamiliar sets of rules to be followed. Without counsel, the likely outcome will be unfavorable in the best of circumstances. This is simply a situation that can’t be left to amateur representation, regardless of how sophisticated the defendant may be.
Anyone arrested for driving under the influence should retain an attorney at once. This is not to escape responsibility or attempt to avoid a just arrest. It is to ensure the defendant’s rights are respected and they are offered the defense they are entitled to under this nation’s highest laws. There is nothing to be gained by unfair prosecution of a defendant, regardless of their degree of guilt.
In order to make certain such a prosecution doesn’t take place, all DUI defendants should have competent counsel.