Five Myths about DUI Arrests
I’ve been practicing DUI law for over 20 years and I’ve heard all sorts of questions and all types of information about DUIs and I want to set the record straight on five myths about DUIs.
- Myth #1: The first myth I hear all the time is “If I put a penny under my tongue when I take the breath test, will it cause the breathalyzer to inaccurately record my breath alcohol reading?” This is a myth and it is not true. Many times this has been tried in the laboratory setting. In fact, it’s even been tried on “Mythbusters.” Putting a copper penny, a dime or nickel, or any coin in your mouth before you take a breath test will not affect the breath test reading. Despite that, law enforcement usually requires a look at your mouth prior to the breath test to make sure you don’t have anything inside. This is a myth and it won’t work.
- Myth #2: You’ll be asked to take field sobriety tests and one of the tests you’ll be asked to do is to say your ABC’s backwards. This is a myth. One of the standardized tests that is given throughout the country in DUI investigation is called the Rhomberg Alphabet Test. This involves saying the alphabet without singing or rhyming A to Z. Not backwards, but frontwards. ABC backwards is a myth and you’ll not be asked to do it. It may happen in a movie, but not in real life.
- Myth #3: If you’re arrested for a DUI and you go down to the breath testing at the police station, and you blow under the legal limit, that you’ll be automatically let go and your case will be dismissed. This is false. If you blow under the legal limit, which is .08 in most states, law enforcement will ask you to either take a urine test if appropriate or they’ll just process you and put you in county jail. You’ll still be required to raise a defense and that case is not automatically dismissed and you will not be let go. If you blow under the legal limit, it just increases your chance of beating the case. But it will not be dismissed automatically and the police will not let you go.
- Myth #4: If you refuse to take a field sobriety test and you refuse to take a breath test, then the government has no evidence against you and they have to dismiss your case. This is a myth. In my business, it’s called a double refusal – meaning you refused to take a breath test and you refused to take a field sobriety test. It may be more difficult for the government to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but the government still has the ability to do this: 1) present the observations of the law enforcement officer of how you walked, how you talked, how you interacted with him or her even though you didn’t do field sobriety tests. 2) They have the ability to testify to bring into court that you refused to take a breath test. The jury is allowed to hear that you were given the option of a breath, blood or urine test and you refused and that you gave up your license for a set period of time in order to prevent the jury from hearing what your blood alcohol level was. In most states, the government is required to prove that you were driving a motor vehicle, that you were under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, and that your normal faculties were impaired (the ability to walk, talk and judge distance). A prosecutor can still prosecute you if you refuse to do both breath tests and you refuse the field sobriety test.
- Myth #5: The final myth is this: “I’ve been arrested for a DUI and the officer forgot to read my rights. I guess my case gets dismissed.” This is a myth. Miranda rights only apply to custodial interrogation and your statements you make against your interest. If law enforcement can prove their case without using your statements against you, they need not read Miranda. If Miranda rights or your rights were not read to you, it may affect your statements, but it does not automatically get your case dismissed.
Hopefully this sets the record straight on the five myths most people have about a DUI arrest.
The criminal defense attorneys at Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A. are fighting for our clients rights in criminal defense cases in Clearwater, Tampa, Bradenton, Spring Hill, Pinellas, Pasco, New Port Richey, Manatee, Hillsborough and Hernando Counties in Florida.
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Kevin Hayslett, Esq.
J. Kevin Hayslettis an attorney practicing in the areas of Criminal Defense and DUI Defense from the Clearwater office and Hillsborough office. Kevin is an avid tennis player and is currently nationally rated in singles and doubles. You can follow Kevin onGoogle+, oron Radio IO on his show, "Kevin's Law". Kevin can also be heard on the Sirius Satellite Radio show during the "Ask the Lawyer" segment, which can be heard the first Thursday of every month.