Every year, thousands of people find themselves arrested and charged with the crime of Driving Under the Influence or “DUI” in Delaware. Delaware is definitely not a state where DUI cases are treated lightly. The penalties can be stiff – large fines, even jail time in advanced DUI cases. In addition, the State will administratively attempt to take away your driver’s license or driving privileges if you are arrested and charged with DUI in Delaware. Therefore, here are my Top 5 Tips from Delaware DUI Defender Matt Stiller for avoiding a Delaware DUI and my best tips if you find yourself arrested for DUI.
Tip #1 –Don’t trust your own judgment after drinking
I understand that everyone makes mistakes. And I understand that sometimes people are going through a tough spot and they make bad decisions. Bad decisions don’t necessarily make you a bad person. But planning ahead before you go to the bar or party makes you smart. Download the Uber or Lyft app to your phone and plug in a credit card number. When you need a ride home, get an Uber. Or call a cab. Or call a friend. But plan it out ahead of time because you’re smart enough to know that after a few drinks, you can’t judge your own sobriety to accurately determine whether you can safely drive home.
Tip #2 – Your car is not a safe place to smoke marijuana
People like to smoke marijuana in their cars. For some reason, people feel safe when they are in their cars with the windows rolled up. But a car is not a good place to smoke marijuana. If you are stopped by the police and they smell the odor of marijuana coming from your car, they are going to try to arrest you for DUI and other drug offenses. By smoking marijuana in your car, you are inviting the police to arrest you for DUI. Don’t drive high, and don’t smoke in your car.
Top 5 Tips from Delaware DUI Defender Matt Stiller
Tip #3 – Make up your mind now about complying with the officer’s investigation because when you’re on the side of the road, that’s not the time to figure out what to do; or as we say in Louisiana, “When you’re knee deep in alligators, it’s too late to worry about draining the pond.”
When a police officer suspects you have been driving impaired as a result of alcohol or drug use, the officer probably won’t automatically take you back to the station and force you to blow into his Intoxilyzer machine. That would likely be unconstitutional if there was no reason to do it! The officer must have reasonable articulable suspicion to believe you are intoxicated. The mere odor of alcohol or marijuana is usually enough for this. If the officer has that reasonable articulable suspicion, he/she will then ask you to perform “field sobriety tests” such as the horizontal and vertical gaze nystagmus tests, the nine-step walk and turn test, the one-legged stand test, and then the portable breathalyzer test. If you refuse to comply, the prosecutor will call this “consciousness of guilt.” And, if you refuse the Intoxilyzer Test, the officer may elect to transport you for a blood draw. This requires either your permission or a valid blood draw search warrant though. Your Delaware driver’s license or driving privileges may be suspended for a year following your hearing at the Division of Motor Vehicles. On the other hand, refusing to perform the tests may or may not stop the criminal prosecution in its tracks. So a good tip for a Delaware motorist is to wrestle with this issue ahead of time, and decide what you will do if you are pulled over and a DUI investigation is commenced.
Tip #4 – After arrest, write down everything you remember happening during the pre-arrest investigation, in the order that it all happened
As stated above, the police officer who arrests you for DUI will likely have run through a series of tests to develop probable cause for your arrest. These are standardized tests developed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA). Some police officers are very well trained and highly experienced in the administration of these tests. Some are not. If the officer makes mistakes when administering these tests, they may unintentionally violate your Constitutional rights. For example, if the tests are not performed according to the exacting requirements published by NHTSA, then the police may have taken you back to the station for breath or blood testing unconstitutionally. An unconstitutionally administered drunk-driving test can be thrown out by the court and that could result in the case being dismissed. So if you are able, and as soon as you are able, you should make notes of everything you remember the police officer saying and doing between the time he stopped you and the time you gave the breath or blood sample. You should then give us your notes at the initial legal consultation after your arrest.
Tip #5 – Go to DMV and request an administrative hearing so your license doesn’t get automatically suspended after your DUI arrest
If you were arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence in Delaware, the police officer likely took your Delaware driver’s license and handed you a paper temporary license. If so, your temporary license automatically expires after fifteen days. You can get the temporary license extended out to 90 days by simply requesting an administrative hearing with the DMV. So, after a Delaware DUI arrest, you should go to the nearest DMV and request a hearing and have your temporary license extended. If you retain us to handle your Delaware DUI case, we will also handle the DMV hearing. But you should request the hearing so you don’t lose your license in the meantime.
There you have it! Those are my best five tips for dealing with the harsh Delaware DUI laws. In DUI cases involving drunk-driving or high-driving arrests in Delaware, I don’t charge a fee for the initial consultation. Please feel free to contact my office about scheduling a time to meet to discuss your case!
Please take a moment to read my “Side of the Road DUI Guide”
Top 5 Tips from Delaware DUI Defender Matt Stiller
JAMES M. STILLER, JR. (Matt)
Schwartz & Schwartz, Attorneys at Law
1140 South State Street
Dover, DE 19903
Work: (302) 678-8700
Fax: (302) 678-8702
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