What to Avoid if You Have Been Charged With a DUI?
Interviewer: What are the most common mistakes you see people make that hurts their case?
Should You Exercise Your Fifth Amendment Rights After a Police Stop?
Steven: Well, if you look at all of the Internet sites and other information, they are all instructing readers that when you get stopped, you shouldn’t talk with the police officer. You should refuse and take your Fifth Amendment right. Do not do the breath test. Do not do this. Do not do that. When you cooperate with the officer, you are giving more fodder to the officer to develop a case of probable cause to arrest you.
It Is Human Nature to Be Cooperative, Especially during a Situation with an Uncertain Outcome
I suppose there aren’t too many people in this world that if pulled over that they’ve got the gumption to not talk with the officer or answer his questions. I think, most people feel they have to. Most people want to be cooperative. Most people, if they are very impaired, know they are and want to cooperate, so I do not think people are thinking “on their feet” and trying to get out from under the situation then.
Attorney Tomeo Advises to Always Remain Polite and Respectful When Talking to the Police Officer
I suppose there are a lot of issues that one might say in hindsight you shouldn’t have done, or if you get stopped, you shouldn’t do. I think one thing a person shouldn’t do and that’s, you should not be disrespectful to the officer. I think you should be respectful. If you do not want to say anything, just tell the police officer that, “You know, I appreciate the job you’re doing, or thank you very much, but I’m not going to answer any of your questions and, if you want to arrest me, take me into the police station now,” and not answer any questions and maybe not even do the field sobriety test if you want to be that way.
In Current Times, There Is an Increased Sensitivity toward DUI Issues
In today’s day and age, that’s really not going to get you really far. This is because I think most appellate courts and most Supreme Court justices on the state and local courts are pretty sensitive to DUI issues. They feel that a police officer can make these judgments, even if they do not give them the field sobriety test, just by looking and talking and seeing how an individual walks and talks after they have been pulled over. I think there are a lot of things people tell us that we shouldn’t do, but I think it’s difficult for the average person not to do it, even if it is their best interest at the time.
It Is Imperative to Avoid a Second DUI Charge While Your First One Is Still Pending
Interviewer: How about once they’ve been arrested and they are going through the process, do people commonly make any errors at that stage that hurts their case?
In Attorney Tomeo’s Practice, Statistically, Women Are More Likely than Men to Receive a Second Charge While the First Case Is Pending
Steven: I hesitate to stereotype or characterize one of the sexes but women have a higher tendency than men to pick up a second DUI charge while their first case is ongoing. Among the women that I have represented that, once I’m representing them on a first offense, better than 50 or 60% of them pick up a second DUI while we are handling the first one.
It Is Common for Many People to Turn to Alcohol During Times of Stress
I attribute this statistic to stress. For example, take a mother. She operates under a great deal of stress every day. She has children. She has a husband. She is working full time. What do we typically do to self-medicate? Many of us self-medicate with having a drink, thinking that alcohol calms us down. How many people do you hear at night they get home, the first thing they do is grab a beer or grab a couple glasses of wine just to relax? To take the edge off, they say. Many people do that all the time, and I have a concern about that. A lot of men pick up second ones while they are going through their first. They pick them up very soon after the first charge.
Attorney Tomeo Encourages Clients Who Have Multiple DUI Charges to Seek Counseling to Better Understand the Pattern of Their Alcohol Consumption
It is almost as if they can’t help themselves. I think that’s a big issue, and I think a lot of people are reluctant to help themself by helping the court understand them better. I like for my clients to go and get some counseling, just to see where they are at in their drinking patterns. I do not think it’s coincidental that they picked up a second one. They are doing something that is just not right. Why be out at two o’clock in the morning?
At 2 AM, the Police Will Most Likely Assume You Are Returning from a Drinking Establishment
Of course, you’ve got the right to be out at two o’clock in the morning, but the police officers are going to presume, if you’re by yourself and you’re out, there’s only a handful of reasons you’re coming home at two o’clock in the morning. One of them, and probably the predominant one, is that you’re coming home from a bar.
Interviewer: Or you could be working at that time, delivering bread or milk?
Steven: I understand, but generally if you were, you’d be in a bread truck. Instead of going out and having somebody else drive them or even in a metropolitan area calling a cab, they get in their car. Here where I live, even though it’s pretty rural, you have New London or Norwich, they could call a cab, because where they live it might be just across town, but they do not do that.
While Alternate Modes of Transportation Are Available, Many People Make the Choice to Drive After They Have Been Drinking
I think there are a lot of easy things a person could do to help themselves, but they make mistakes and end up facing a second charge. Or once they’ve been convicted and they are in a license-suspension period, they drive. They do not get picked up and violated for driving under suspension because the officer just saw their car and thought they were drinking. Most likely, the officer observes their taillight out or not driving with the headlights on when it is dark.
You have to be aware of all the chances you take when you drive after drinking. You’re told when you learn how to drive you have to be conscious of the dangers that exist, but as we get older, we forget about the headlights and taillights. All of a sudden the officer says, “I just stopped you because your taillight was out and, by the way, have you had anything to drink?” Now you are on your way to your second DUI charge.
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