VIB Law Reminds Drivers this Thanksgiving to Remember their Rights if Stopped for Suspicion of DUI

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Throughout California and the entire nation, law enforcement officials will be on high-alert for drunk drivers over the long Thanksgiving weekend. VIB Law reminds drivers to never drink and drive but to also remember: everyone is innocent unless proven otherwise.

Assert your rights if you are stopped by the police.

Before this Thanksgiving weekend, review your rights as a driver. VIB Law believes that if you are aware of your rights, you have a much better chance of enjoying the holiday.

Thanksgiving often involves long drives to relatives' houses and overnight stays in hotels and motels. In other scenarios, drivers will travel a short distance to celebrate Thanksgiving as guests and then return home. In these and many other situations, drinking and driving may become an issue.

Because so many people will be on the road over the next several days for the holiday, Thanksgiving weekend is often very deadly with a high number of car accidents involving drunk drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in a consumer advisory last year that 416 traffic fatalities occurred over the long Thanksgiving weekend in 2012. 42% of the fatal accidents involved a drunk-driver. Thus, the police may be hyper-vigilant in their efforts to crack down on drunk driving. This can lead to overly aggressive tactics and rights' violations by law enforcement officials.

Cameron Bowman of the law firm Valencia, Ippolito and Bowman (VIB Law) reminds the public "to be aware of your rights if you are stopped by law enforcement for suspicion of DUI. There are three major tips we offer the public in that situation: remain silent, do not take the field sobriety test and make sure you request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest." Over the high-profile holiday weekend, police may be extremely zealous in trying to make DUI arrests to send a cautionary message. This, Bowman says, makes knowing your rights especially important when DUI checkpoints may be plentiful.

Bowman continues by saying, "in the Bay Area, throughout California and across the nation, DUI task forces and checkpoints will be set up trying to get drunk drivers off the road. The police should be lauded for their efforts. But they can often be overly aggressive." He says, if you are stopped, "remember that your first and most fundamental right is always your right to remain silent. You always have this right. Use it. This is especially true of any questions about 'how many drinks did you have?' 'what have you taken?' or 'what have you smoked?' and similar questions. You don't have to answer. Instead, simply state 'I want a lawyer.'" Additionally, the attorney says, "you do not have to consent to a Field Sobriety Test."

Riccardo Ippolito, also of VIB Law, argues that "the police can be intimidating but you need to assert your rights when it comes to the Field Sobriety Test. These FSTs are completely consensual. In other words, you are not required by law to take them. These tests, like the walk the line test, touch finger to nose, and others, are often conducted in a very subjective way. Also, officers may not follow the standardized protocol they should when administering these tests. Remember, the police are gathering evidence against you. You have a complete right to refuse to take these fields tests. We suggest telling the police officer in a polite and respectful tone, 'I am choosing not to do these field tests and I want a lawyer.'"

Bowman reaffirms: "stay silent. Ask for a lawyer, politely refuse to take the FSTs and, if you are arrested, still remain silent." He continues by imploring the public "to ask for a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest or you may face serious restrictions on your driving privileges. If you do not request this hearing and you or your lawyer do not appear at it, your license will be suspended automatically."

Before this Thanksgiving weekend, review your rights as a driver. VIB Law believes that if you are aware of your rights, you have a much better chance of enjoying the holiday.

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Irlanda Macias
since: 05/2011
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Criminal Defense San Jose California | VIB Law Offices
since: 09/2009
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Valencia, Ippolito & Bowman Attorneys At Law

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