Common DUI Myths
A lot is at risk following a DUI arrest. The arrested person may lose his or her driver’s license, face fines, and could even go to jail.
Someone facing a DUI charge will likely have a lot of questions. Most people have no idea what to expect and rely on the advice of friends and family. Some of these friends and relatives may have faced similar charges or may simply know someone who knows someone who once was arrested for a DUI.
As a result, there are a lot of misconceptions out there. The following explore a few of the more common DUI myths.
Myth 1: Breathalyzer or Blood Alcohol Tests Cannot be Fought
After being pulled over for a DUI, it is likely the driver will have to submit to a breathalyzer test or blood alcohol test.
If the results show that the driver is over the legal limit, many people believe that they cannot fight these results. As a result, they mistakenly resign themselves to the idea that their legal matter is doomed from the start. That is actually not the case.
If the tests were not administered properly, the court can kick out the test results. Likewise, if the person’s rights were violated during the test, the defense can ask that the court suppress the evidence. If the judge agrees then the prosecution cannot use the evidence.
In addition, a good defense attorney can find other weaknesses in the prosecution’s case to go against that evidence to either get the charges reduced or to have the case dismissed.
Myth 2: Field Sobriety Tests Are Mandatory
Another common myth is that an individual must comply when asked to perform a field sobriety test. Under Washington State law, these tests are voluntary. Therefore, if the police officer asks the driver to exit his or her vehicle to perform a Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST), the driver can simply refuse.
Although, the police officer is under a legal obligation to inform the driver that the SFST is voluntary, they way that they say it is usually confusing. Some officers actually lie to drivers to have them believe it is required, when, in fact, it is not.
Keep in mind, the voluntary aspect applies to the FSTs and answering questions. You have to take the breath test given at the police station or jail or you will lose your license for at least one year.
Myth 3: DUI Only Involves Alcohol
Another misconception is that someone can only be guilty of a DUI if he or she was under the influence of alcohol. However, RCW 46.61.502 states that a DUI means the person was driving under the influence of “intoxicating liquor, marijuana or drug.”
In addition, the person does not need to have a blood alcohol concentration of over the 0.08 legal limit or 5.00 THC limit to be convicted of a DUI. The person also does not need to be above the legal limit necessarily to be arrested.
So long as the person was affected by or under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or another drug, that could be sufficient evidence to demonstrate that he or she is guilty of a DUI. “Buzzed” driving qualifies as a DUI as much as drunk driving.
Myth 4: Being the Designated Driver Means You Are Safe
Say someone is out to dinner or for drinks with friends. After a couple of hours, the person who had the least amount of drinks is chosen as the “designated driver” to take everyone home.
However, also say that same person was pulled over and arrested for a DUI. If he or she was chosen as the “designated driver,” that does not mean that he or she was the sober driver.
There is a distinct difference between the two categories. Being called the designated driver is a good idea if that person has not had anything to drink that night. No one should be a designated driver if they’ve had anything at all to drink.
Myth 5: A Clean Record Means the Driver Is in the Clear
Many times, a person who has been arrested for a DUI for the first time may believe he or she will not receive harsh penalties for the DUI offense. After all, if they have never been in trouble before, the judge will go easy on them, right?
The problem is the state has issued “mandatory minimum” punishments for a DUI offense. These punishments are required regardless of whether the defendant has a good record.
The only way to avoid receiving these punishments is to not be found guilty of the crime. Otherwise, very little discretion is given to the judge for issuing these punishments.