Being pulled over by the police can be a scary experience. Recent news stories do not help how the public perceives traffic stops. For instance, there was that one recent story in New Jersey where police pulled over a young man and performed a cavity search for marijuana. Most traffic stops are not this eventful. However, there are certain mistakes you should avoid during a traffic stop. Some mistakes during a traffic stop could result in severe consequences.
- Stepping out of the vehicle. Some traffic stop mistakes could put your life in danger. Stepping out of your vehicle is one of those mistakes. Police may believe you are trying to harm them if you exit your vehicle. You should stay in your vehicle and keep your hands on the steering wheel.
- Being argumentative or talkative. As difficult as it might be, try to remain calm and polite. If you are argumentative or disrespectful, then it could escalate the traffic stop into an even more uncomfortable situation. You should never try to explain yourself or engage in a conversation about why you are being pulled over. Let the officer do the talking.
- Performing the standardized field sobriety test. If officers suspect you are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may ask you to submit to the standardized field sobriety test (SFST). The SFST is a combination of three tests that you could still fail even if you are sober. These tests are also recorded by police dashboard cameras. If you fail, it will be on tape and possibly used against you by the prosecution.
- Submitting to a search. Police can search your vehicle if they have probable cause or a warrant. There are also other limited circumstances where they can conduct a search. Submitting to search could prove to be a very big mistake.
- Running away or resisting arrest. Running from the police at a traffic stop could prove to be a life-ending or life-ruining mistake. You could be looking at felony charges. The same could be true if you resist arrest.
What If I’m Arrested?
If you are arrested during a traffic stop, then it is important to remain silent and ask for an attorney. The prosecution may use whatever you say to the police against you if you are facing criminal charges.
Louis J. Goodman is a Bay Area criminal defense attorney with decades of experience. If you were arrested and charged with a crime, then Louis J. Goodman could explain your rights and possible defense options. You may call our law office for a free consultation. Call (510) 582-9090 or use our online case review form.
Last month’s blog discussed how marijuana legalization could change DUI stops in California. Field sobriety tests are a method law enforcement may use to determine if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. More can be said about the standardized field sobriety test (SFST) and its weaknesses.
Three consecutive tests, which are sanctioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), make up the SFST. These three tests are as follows:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus. For this test, a police officer requires you to follow an object with your eyes. An officer is looking for two things: an inability to follow the object and eyeball jerking (nystagmus).
- Walk and turn. With this test, officers require to you to take nine paces (heel-to-toe) in a straight line in one direction, and then in the other. A police officer is looking for trouble with balance or an inability to walk in a straight line.
- One-leg stand. This test is what it sounds like. You must raise one foot six-inches off the ground for thirty seconds. An officer is looking for trouble balancing.
There are also non-standardized field sobriety tests. You may have heard of these before. Non-standardized tests include reciting the alphabet or touching your finger to your nose.
Can I Fail a Field Sobriety Test While Sober?
You could fail a field sobriety test if you are sober. Certain medical conditions, such as a panic disorder or a bad back, could make it impossible to complete a field sobriety test. Your clothing, the weather and certain medications could also hurt your performance.
Also keep in mind, police cruiser dashboard cameras will record your attempt to pass field sobriety tests. This evidence may be used against you by the prosecution. These are all risks you should keep in mind before agreeing to take a field sobriety test. If you are arrested, then your decision to take the test could make it more difficult to defend yourself from a DUI charge. You can refuse to submit to the field sobriety tests described in this blog.
You should speak to a criminal defense lawyer if you were arrested for a DUI, regardless of whether you took a field sobriety test. If you or a family member were arrested for a DUI, then Hayward criminal defense lawyer Louis J. Goodman could discuss your situation at no cost during a consultation. You can reach Louis J. Goodman by calling (510) 582-9090 or by using our online contact form.
As you already know, recreational marijuana was recently legalized in California. Law enforcement agencies have expressed concern that legalization will lead to more instances of impaired driving. However, there is no state law that defines what qualifies as “impaired” for a marijuana DUI.
In California and other states, you must have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more to be charged with a DUI (over 21 years old). No such threshold exists for marijuana. In addition, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana (THC) can stay in your system for weeks or days. A person could be pulled over while sober but could test positive for marijuana they had smoked days or even weeks ago. Furthermore, no such threshold for marijuana impairment has been determined.
California law enforcement officers are developing new ways to catch people who are under suspicion of driving while high on marijuana. Possible changes, some of which have been implemented, include but are not limited to:
- Increased use of drug recognition experts. These are law enforcement officials who undergo specialized training to recognize drug intoxication. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) recently announced they are hiring additional drug recognition experts. In addition, CHP has launched an independent study to learn more about how marijuana impairs drivers.
- Saliva swab tests. Some California police departments have field-tested advanced saliva swab tests. Officers in San Diego have used the Dräger DrugTest 5000 to detect the presence of up to seven drugs. Like many tests for marijuana, saliva swab tests cannot determine impairment.
- Marijuana breathalyzer. We recently published a blog on the “marijuana breathalyzer”. These devices would function in a similar way to alcohol breathalyzers. However, the devices have only been field tested and are not currently in use.
- Continued use of field sobriety tests. Officers may use the classic three-part, NHTSA-sponsored field sobriety tests. These are the tests where you must walk a certain number of paces heel-to-toe in a straight line, follow an object with your eyes or stand on one leg and count. You are not required by law to take these tests.
- Continued use of blood and urine tests. While not necessarily a change, officers will likely continue to use blood and urine samples in conjunction with other types of tests. However, the officers must have demonstrated probable cause for an arrest to carry out these tests.
Arrested for a Marijuana DUI? Call Our Hayward Marijuana DUI Lawyer
Hayward DUI lawyer Louis J. Goodman has decades of experience practicing criminal defense law. Before establishing his practice, Louis. J Goodman served as a former Deputy District Attorney. If you have questions about your legal rights after a DUI arrest, then you have come to the right place. We charge nothing for an office or phone consultation.