Archive for November, 2013

How to Avoid Adding Fuel to the Fire During Your DUI Investigation

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Whether or not you are driving under the influence of alcohol, the stress of being pulled over by a police officer who has already concluded that you are drunk can make even the most sober driver act a little strangely. If you can remain calm under all of that pressure, and remember the following tips, it is possible that you will emerge from the experience relatively unscathed, and most importantly, without a DUI conviction.

When there is a uniformed police officer standing outside of your vehicle and speaking to you sternly, you may feel as if you can gain the officer’s respect and/or favor by acting submissively and obeying their every command. While standing up for yourself and your rights may be difficult in the moment, it is essential that you do so in order to ensure that your rights are preserved. You do not have to answer every question that is asked of you. Say as little as you possibly can, and request to speak to your attorney immediately. After all, you do have the right to remain silent, and anything that you say can and will be used against you later on.

It’s not just your words that can get you into trouble during a traffic stop and the accompanying DUI investigation.  Actions can also be used as evidence against you. You have the right to refuse to perform field sobriety tests, and as such, you can invoke that right during any traffic stop. While you may think that cooperating will win you favor or prove that you are not drunk, remember that the officer who has stopped you has likely made up their mind that you are drunk. In asking you to perform field sobriety tests, the officer is essentially asking you to provide some evidence that he or she can use to support a lawful arrest.

In the spirit of providing as little information as possible to the police officer who wants to arrest you for DUI, you should also know that you may refuse the portable breathalyzer test. While there may be consequences associated with refusing to take a formal breathalyzer test (such as automatic arrest), Kansas drivers are not legally required to participate in roadside testing. As with field sobriety tests, the portable breathalyzer is yet another way for a police officer to collect evidence against you to support an arrest, and to be used later on in hopes of obtaining a conviction.

It is important to understand that even if you follow all of these suggestions, you may still be taken into custody. With that in mind, pay close attention during the traffic stop so that you can determine whether and when you are taken into custody. If you have never been arrested and investigated for DUI before, you may not know that it’s not always obvious when you are in police custody. Keeping drivers in the dark about whether or not they are free to leave creates a gray area in which they might continue to reveal incriminating information in response to police questioning. You can prevent that type of situation by asking the officer whether you are free to leave soon after you are stopped, and at other times during the conversation.

Knowing your rights during a traffic stop and remaining calm enough to stand up for them in the heat of the moment can go a long way towards getting your DUI charges reduced or dismissed. Even if you are able to employ only one or two of the above tips, our knowledgeable Kansas DUI defense attorneys can help you to obtain the best possible outcome in your DUI case. If you have been charged with DUI, contact Cummings & Cummings, LLC today at (316) 264-1548 to learn about your rights and options.

Blood Test Results Suppressed in Lawrence, KS DUI Case

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Being accused of driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious matter. Fortunately, the rights of persons who are accused of driving under the influence of alcohol are protected, just like the rights of anyone else who has been accused of a crime. Perhaps the most important thing that all people should remember, in the event that they are accused of driving under the influence or any other crime, is that they can invoke the protections afforded to them by the United States Constitution.

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects the citizens of the United States from unreasonable searches and seizures. In the context of a DUI, this means that persons who are accused of drunk driving may refuse a blood test which could reveal the presence of alcohol in their system. In August of 2012, a driver who refused a blood test while at the scene of an accident later had blood drawn at a hospital. The blood was tested, and revealed that there was alcohol in his bloodstream, in an amount more than twice the legal limit.

The state claims that the blood test was lawful, because of a Kansas implied consent statute, which they believe enables law enforcement to obtain a blood sample without consent in cases where there is an accident or injury. The defendant maintains that the blood test was unlawful because he did not consent to it.

Last month, a judge in Douglas County ruled that the results of the blood test would be suppressed, because the state’s implied consent statute does not clearly authorize a warrantless blood draw in a situation where there has been an accident or an injury. Further, the judge stated that law enforcement’s compliance with the state statute does not guarantee that their actions satisfied the requirements of the Fourth Amendment. In conclusion, the judge said that a search warrant should have been obtained before the blood sample was drawn.

Interestingly enough, the United States Supreme Court weighed in on the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures earlier this year. The Supreme Court ruled that warrantless blood draws in routine DUI investigations are not constitutional. Their decision does, however, leave the door open for warrantless blood draws to be upheld in situations where there are “exigent circumstances”. The decision appears to leave it up to the states to define “exigent circumstances”, or, at the very least to permit law enforcement to argue that such circumstances existed in any given case where the legality of a warrantless blood draw is called into question. Twenty five states currently prohibit warrantless blood draws in routine DUI cases, but many do permit them in cases where there has been an accident or injury, such as the aforementioned case in Douglas County.

If you are accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, the best thing that you can do is to avoid saying or doing anything that could incriminate you. Inform the law enforcement officer that you wish to speak with an attorney before discussing the incident further, and call an experienced Kansas DUI defense attorney. Your Kansas DUI defense attorney can work with you to provide the best possible defense against any charges that you are facing. Call our Wichita office today at (316) 264-1548.