Why It’s Important to Understand DUI Stops, Even if You Weren’t Drinking

Nobody likes getting pulled over by the police, even when you haven’t done anything wrong. However, it’s easy to assume that, if you haven’t been drinking, you have nothing to worry about. That isn’t the case, as a recent Arizona appellate opinion illustrates.

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was riding as a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence. When the officer approached the vehicle asking about whether there are any weapons in the car, the defendant replied that there were none. However, as the officer shined a flashlight through the vehicle’s windows, he saw a shotgun barrel.

When confronted with the fact that there was a weapon in the car, the defendant told the officer that he meant to mention the shotgun, but he forgot. When asked, the defendant admitted that he handled the gun, that he was on felony probation, and that he knew he was prohibited from handling a weapon. The defendant was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and was sentenced to 12 years in jail.

What Are Your Rights During a DUI Stop?

It’s never easy to know how to act when you’re pulled over by the police. If a police officer starts asking questions about drinking and driving, you can easily fall into the trap of thinking you have nothing to worry about if you are not impaired. However, officers often use DUI stops and traffic stops to search for evidence related to other crimes. Thus, it is important to understand your rights during a traffic stop.

First, while you need to provide an officer with your driver’s license, insurance information and vehicle registration, you do not need to answer their questions. Of course, police officers are not going to tell you this, but your constitutional rights allow you to refuse questioning. By refusing questioning, you may raise the officer’s suspicions. It’s common for police officers to assume that anyone who was innocent would fully cooperate. However, unless they find evidence of a crime, they cannot arrest you or search your vehicle.

Next, you do not ever need to consent to a vehicle search. If an officer has probable cause to arrest you or search your car, they do not need your permission. Thus, if an officer is asking you for your permission, it is a good sign they do not have enough evidence at that point to arrest you (or to search your car). Don’t give them the permission they need to search your car lawfully, because it’s difficult to challenge a search after you consented to it.

Have You been Arrested for an Arizona DUI?

If you were recently arrested for a DUI offense in Arizona, reach out to the Law Offices of James E. Novak for immediate assistance. Attorney Novak is a veteran Phoenix DUI defense lawyer who cares deeply about each of his clients. With his help, you can work towards a compelling defense, regardless of the crimes charged. To learn more, reach out to the Law Offices of James E. Novak at 480-413-1499 to schedule a free consultation today.

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