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DUI Arrests

Every drunk driving case begins with an arrest by a police officer. This usually follows a traffic stop and one or more sobriety tests. You may know someone who's had a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction. Or you might be wondering what happens during a DUI arrest. You're in the right place.

This article covers various topics about traffic stops, tests for impairment, and other procedures leading to a DUI arrest. The article covers the legality of DUI checkpoints and what to expect when stopped by a police officer. The article also addresses field sobriety tests.

DUI Stops

The first step in any DUI arrest is a traffic stop. This can occur at a standard DUI checkpoint. Police officers can also initiate a traffic stop if they notice an issue like impaired driving or a missing taillight on your motor vehicle.

Some states don't employ DUI checkpoints. But, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a state's interest in eliminating drunk driving outweighs a driver's privacy interest. As long as police apply the same criteria for stopping each driver, DUI checkpoints are legal. Only 12 states have chosen not to use them.

Whether you're stopped at a checkpoint or pulled over elsewhere, there are some Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. However, once an officer suspects someone of driving while intoxicated, refusing to cooperate with their investigation could mean an automatic suspension of your license.

Field Sobriety and Chemical Tests

The next, and usually definitive, step to a DUI arrest is sobriety testing. Once a law enforcement officer suspects you're intoxicated as a driver, the officer will administer a variety of tests to determine whether, and by how much, you're under the influence of alcohol or another substance. Tests are generally split between field sobriety tests and chemical tests.

Field sobriety tests can be anything from counting numbers and reciting the alphabet to balance and walking challenges. A one-leg test is common. Another common field sobriety test is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Field sobriety tests are usually employed first to see if there's a need to administer a chemical test.

Chemical tests use breath, blood, or urine samples to determine the presence and prevalence of an intoxicant in the driver. These tests are administered on the scene or at a police station or hospital. A breath test device such as a Breathalyzer gives an estimate of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). A blood test is more accurate than a Breathalyzer test and indicates whether your blood alcohol content exceeds the legal limit.

State laws vary, but as a general rule, refusing to submit to chemical testing results in an automatic driver's license suspension and loss of driving privileges.

Hiring a DUI Attorney

Any criminal charge is serious, and DWI or DUI charges are no exception. Between implied consent laws, chemical testing, and a possible trial, consulting with an experienced DUI lawyer can help you understand the severity of your misdemeanor or felony DUI offense and penalties and protect your rights as a criminal defendant facing a possible DUI conviction.

A defense attorney can explain DUI laws and aid in your criminal defense, regardless of whether this is your first offense or you've had multiple DUI cases and are facing jail time.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Complex DUI situations usually require a lawyer
  • DUI defense attorneys can challenge Breathalyzer/Intoxilyzer or blood test results
  • A lawyer can seek to reduce or eliminate DUI penalties
  • A lawyer can help get your license back

Get tailored advice and ask your legal questions. Many attorneys offer free consultations.


 If you need an attorney, find one right now.

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