DUI Arrest

An officer makes the decision to arrest a citizen when he believes there is “probable cause” for the arrest. This is a subjective belief on the part of the officer and to survive a challenge in court, it must be shown that there were sufficient facts to predicate the conclusion that the driver was under the influence. The rest is usually based upon observations of driving, field sobriety tests, a “portable breath test,” statements made by the driver, and general observations of the drivers demeanor including speech, balance, and odor of alcohol.

A DUI arrest typically occurs after the officer has seen something that triggers him to make the initial detention of the vehicle. This may be an infraction such as speeding, weaving, or something innocuous such as a burned-out taillight. (In many cases, an officer will stop a vehicle for a minor traffic infraction at night when the same officer would not stop the same vehicle for the same infraction in the middle of the day.)

DUI ArrestA DUI arrest might also occur when there has been an accident, and the officer smelled alcohol or detects “signs” of intoxication. In most cases, he or she is being arrested because handcuffs are applied and then the person is transported in the back of a police car to the police station for processing. However, in some cases, particularly those involving an accident where the individual is at the hospital being treated for injuries, that individual might be placed “under arrest” by an officer and yet, the handcuffs are never used. This is an arrest nonetheless for purposes of the DUI law.

If you were taken to a police station for a breath test, or if an officer requested blood (or obtained by way of a search warrant) then it is a pretty good bet you were arrested for DUI and DUI charges are pending.

Once an individual is arrested, “Miranda warnings” are read to the individual. This is a critical stage of the proceedings, a time when the officer is clearly in an adversarial position regarding the driver. At this point, the officer is gathering evidence to use against the driver in court and the driver would be well advised to take advantage of constitutional rights that are mentioned in the “Miranda warnings.”

The arrest is usually followed by a breath test at the police station which the driver either submits to or refuses. If a driver over age 21 takes the breath test and the reading is  .08 or higher, or if the same driver refuses the breath test, then  the officer will report this to the Department of licensing and the Department of licensing will take action to administratively suspend the driver’s license. The date of the arrest is important since that starts a time clock ticking. It is important to take correct and timely action in order to have an opportunity for a hearing to fight to save your license. You should send your Driver’s Hearing Request to the DOL (or apply online for the hearing) within seven days of arrest if the arrest was on or after 1/1/19, 20 days if before. The need to timely request a DOL hearing is one of the reasons why meeting with a knowledgeable DUI attorney very soon after a DUI arrest is a good idea.