The DUI Arrest

The Traffic Stop

From the moment a police officer observes a possible traffic violation, it is the officer’s job to begin building a case against that driver.  The officer does not work for the individual; the officer works for the State and has a duty to defend its laws and the public.

An officer must have a valid reason to make a traffic stop in a DUI case. Typical DUI arrests result from stops for a number of traffic violations including driving left of center, failing to signal, failing to make a complete stop, or speeding. When the officer approaches the vehicle and questions the driver, the driver has the right to remain silent. Anything the driver says will be used against her or him.

APC arrests differ from DUI arrests. An Actual Physical Control charge indicates the intoxicated driver was in control of a vehicle that was not in motion, but that could possibly have been driven. Therefore, the officer does not witness a traffic violation when initially approaching a person she or he may later arrest for APC.

Upon contacting the vehicle occupants after the traffic stop, the officer will continue building a case by examining the driver to determine whether she or he is intoxicated. If the officer smells any drugs or alcohol emitting from the vehicle, or observes other clues of intoxication, the individual will be asked to take the State’s Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFST). The result of these tests, the officer’s observations, and any driver or vehicle occupant admissions regarding drinking or drug use can lead to an arrest. Driving under the use of prescribed drugs is not a valid defense, and could lead to a DUI or APC arrest if the drugs cause impairment.

Standard Field Sobriety Tests

Common Standard Field Sobriety Tests include the “one-leg stand,” the “walk and turn,” and the “horizontal gaze nystagmus test.” During the performance of these tests, the officer looks for clues that might indicate intoxication.

Once the driver has taken the State’s Standard Field Sobriety Tests, the police officer will make a determination whether probable cause exists to find the driver has violated the law, and if so, whether the individual should be arrested, and for which related traffic offense.  Such offenses include driving while impaired (DWI), driving under the influence (DUI), actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence (APC), or aggravated DUI. These charges are discussed elsewhere and are determined by the level of the driver’s intoxication and whether a witness viewed the vehicle in motion.

If the officer decides to arrest the driver, the officer must ask the arrestee if she or he agrees to take the State’s breath or blood test. The officer will choose which test to offer the individual. Usually, the breath test is offered when the officer believes the driver has been drinking. The blood test is usually administered when drugs are believed to be involved. Breath tests provide the blood alcohol content (BAC) within the subject’s body at the time the test is administered. A blood test provides the BAC, as well as the presence, but not the concentration, of drugs in the bloodstream. The response to an officer’s request for a breath or blood test is important because it has implications in both the criminal and DPS cases.

The Breath or Blood Tests

Saying "No" - Refusing to take the State's breath or blood test.

Criminal Case: The State will make the determination of filing the case based on the officer’s observations rather than the test results.

 

DPS Case: A driver’s license could potentially be revoked for a period of 180 days or more.

A first DUI or APC arrest (or an individual with no DUI or APC arrest history in the previous 10 years) can result in a 180-day revocation of the arrestee’s driver’s license. After the license is reinstated, a restriction will be placed on the license requiring an interlock breathalyzer machine to be installed in any vehicle driven by the license holder for a period of 18 months following reinstatement.

A second DUI or APC arrest (or an individual with one prior DUI or APC arrest history in the previous 10 years) can result in a one-year revocation of the arrestee’s driver’s license. After the license is reinstated, the license holder will have a restriction on her or his driver’s license requiring an interlock breathalyzer machine installed in any vehicle the arrestee drives for a period of four years following reinstatement.

A third or subsequent DUI or APC arrest (or an individual with two prior DUI or APC arrests in the previous 10 years) can result in a three-year revocation of the arrestee’s driver’s license.  After the license is reinstated, a restriction will be placed on the license requiring an interlock breathalyzer machine to be installed in any vehicle driven by the license holder for a period of five years following reinstatement.

Saying "Yes" - Submitting to the State's breath or blood test.

Blood Alcohol Content less than 0.08
Criminal Case: If an individual’s breath or blood test results for alcohol are less than 0.08, the criminal charge could be filed as driving while impaired (DWI). DPS Case: A driver’s license will only be affected by a DWI arrest if the arrestee is convicted in his or her companion criminal case. Such a conviction would cause the driver’s license to be revoked for a period of 30 days for a first-time DWI arrest. For a second arrest, the license would be revoked for six months and the license would be revoked for one year after a third arrest. A modified license is available during these revocation periods.

 

Blood Alcohol Content from 0.08 to 0.14
Criminal Case: If an individual’s breath or blood test results for alcohol are 0.08 to 0.14, the criminal charge could be filed as driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). DPS Case: A driver’s license could potentially be revoked for a period of 180 days or more. A first DUI or APC arrest (or an individual with no DUI or APC arrest history in the previous 10 years) can result in the arrestee’s driver’s license being revoked for a period of 180 days. A second DUI or APC arrest (or an individual with one prior DUI or APC arrest history in the previous 10 years) can result in the arrestee’s driver’s license being revoked for a period of one year. A third or subsequent DUI or APC arrest (or an individual with two or more prior DUI or APC arrests in the previous 10 years) can result in the arrestee’s driver’s license being revoked for a period of three years.

 

Blood Alcohol Content of 0.15 or higher
Criminal Case: If an individual’s breath or blood test results are 0.15 or higher, the criminal charge could be filed as an AGGRAVATED DUI. DPS Case: The revocation and interlock installation periods are dependent on the number of the driver’s previous DUI or APC arrests. A first DUI or APC arrest (or an individual with no DUI or APC arrest history in the previous 10 years) can result in a 180-day license revocation period. Restriction upon reinstatement: After the license is reinstated, the license holder will have a restriction on her or his driver’s license requiring an interlock breathalyzer machine installed in any vehicle the driver operates for a period of 18 months following reinstatement. A second DUI or APC arrest (or an individual with one prior DUI or APC arrest history in the previous 10 years) can result in the arrestee’s driver’s license being revoked for a period of one year. Restriction upon reinstatement: After the license is reinstated, the license holder will have a restriction on her or his driver’s license requiring an interlock breathalyzer machine to be installed in any vehicle driven by the license holder for a period of four years following reinstatement. A third or subsequent DUI or APC arrest (or an individual with two prior DUI or APC arrests in the previous 10 years) can result in the arrestee’s driver’s license being revoked for a period of three years. Restriction upon reinstatement: After the license is reinstated, the license holder will have a restriction on her or his driver’s license requiring an interlock breathalyzer machine to be installed in any vehicle driven by the license holder for a period of five years following reinstatement.  

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