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Arrested on a DUI charge – can your silence be used against you?
You may think that your silence cannot be used against you in court; this is not entirely true. This is not to say that you should volunteer information if you are pulled over on suspicion of a DUI; doing so is not usually a good idea. But, if you remain silent, this can be considered a sign of guilt; as was the case in People vs Tom.
We are going to look at what happens when you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI in California, and what you should do if you do not want to incriminate yourself.What happens when you are pulled over on suspicion of a DUI?
It's important to remember that the police do not need to read you your rights when you are first pulled over on suspicion of a DUI. They do not have to do this unless they arrest you, and are intending to question you. This means that anything you say could be used as evidence against you. The police are entitled to ask for your license, your name and age and proof of insurance. They are also entitled to ask you to undertake a field sobriety test. You do not have to provide them with any additional information.
The best thing to do is to say that you want to speak to a DUI Lawyer in San Diego and that you are using your fifth amendment right not to incriminate yourself. You can do this before and after you are arrested.The penalties for a DUI conviction in California
It's important that you act in the right way if you are arrested on a DUI charge, including making the police aware of the reason for your silence. You do not want to do anything to make it more likely that you will be convicted.
If you are convicted of a DUI offense in California you can face substantial maximum punishments including almost $4,000 in fines and penalty assessments, six months in county jail or a license suspension for six months and the impounding of your vehicle for thirty days. It's worth noting that these are the maximum penalties for a misdemeanour first DUI offense so not everyone who is convicted is punished this severely.
Any conviction and punishment is hard though. This is why it's important not to make things any worse for yourself when you are first pulled over. It can be a stressful time, so you need to make sure you get legal help with your situation. The State of California, Department of Motor Vehicles also provides information you may find useful, concerning what happens after you are arrested.
Remember, that you have a right to not say anything which may incriminate you. If you are remaining silent you should make sure that the police know you are invoking this right. Otherwise, your silence could be perceived as a sign of guilt, and could potentially be used against you in court.