Mecklenburg County DUI Stops and Arrests
Mecklenburg County law enforcement is always looking for any sort of driving error that could give them grounds to initiate a traffic stop. Common driving errors that could lead to a traffic stop include obvious signs of intoxication such as weaving in between lanes, failure to use a turn signal, or even things as benign as a broken or malfunctioning taillight.
If you have been pulled over by the police under suspicion of driving under the influence, you have rights. Law enforcement is required to follow rules and procedures during a traffic stop, and a failure to follow those rules could lead to a dismissal of charges. Mecklenburg County DUI stops and arrests are very serious, but a lawyer may be able to advise you on how to best protect your rights and prepare a strong defense if you are arrested.
DUI Traffic Stop Basics
A DUI traffic stop in Mecklenburg County will begin like any other traffic stop until the officer begins to suspect that the driver may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. All drivers in the Commonwealth of Virginia give implied consent for law enforcement to administer tests to determine if a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The presence of drugs in the vehicle may constitute a drug charge in the Commonwealth.
Once there is suspicion of a DUI, the officer will generally ask the driver to step out of the car, ask a few questions about any recent alcohol use, and then ask to perform some field sobriety tests. Drivers have the right to say no to a request for a field sobriety test. After tests are performed or denied, if there is a reason to believe that the driver is intoxicated, the officer can administer a breathalyzer test. If the driver blows over a 0.08 blood alcohol content, they will be arrested for driving under the influence.
Whether or not an officer searches a vehicle depends on the specifics of each particular stop. However, the officer can only search the vehicle if they have probable cause. This means that they must have a reasonable belief that there is evidence related to an arresting crime, or they have seen enough behavior to indicate that there may be evidence in the vehicle.
A driver will always have the right to withhold consent to a search of their vehicle. It is advisable that a driver always withhold consent for a search of their vehicle. If the officer has probable cause to search the vehicle, they will do so regardless of consent, but if they do not, the officer will be unable to perform a search during a DUI stop and arrest in Mecklenburg. A DUI lawyer may be able to have charges dismissed if an officer searches a vehicle without consent or probable cause.
How to Act During a Stop
A driver can ask to speak to a lawyer at any time, but it is likely not possible to have a lawyer at an actual traffic stop, as an officer generally will not stop their search to wait for an attorney to arrive. However, a driver has a constitutional right to remain silent during a Mecklenburg County DUI stop and arrest, and it is wise to do so.
Any statement that an individual provides to law enforcement during a traffic interaction can be used against them during a trial. During an arrest, officers must read Miranda rights to an arrested driver, but it is still important to exercise these rights even before the officer reads them off.
A Mecklenburg DUI Lawyer Could Help
If you are stopped for a DUI in Mecklenburg County, you have rights. It is wise to avoid making statements, withhold consent to a search of your vehicle, and refuse to take a field sobriety test. You are still required to take a breathalyzer test if asked due to implied consent, but it is important to protect yourself in every way possible. For more information about Mecklenburg County DUI stops and arrests, contact a local criminal attorney today.