Feb 05, 2017 Virginia Criminal & DWI defense tips and reminders on Super Bowl Sunday
Super Bowl Sunday is a time of high energy, merrymaking, drinking beer and other alcohol, chowing down, cheering when one’s team wins, and regretting when one’s team loses.
Getting tipsy on alcohol can be fun, at least when it does not unleash one’s demons and at least when not followed by driving.
Despite my seventeen-year-old online top ten list for dealing with the police, and six-year-old YouTube video on the same, countless people continue getting themselves into criminal law pickles by not following the power of saying “no” to the police: No to talking beyond identifying oneself, no to searches, and no to field sobriety tests in DWI cases.
Despite my longtime admonition to clients and others not to drive within twenty four hours of drinking beer, wine or liquor, many do the opposite and need my assistance as a result. Despite my handing out my top ten list top ten list to every person who meets me about their case, plenty disregard that list not even once, but sometimes even twice or more.
Here are a few basic pieces of information for keeping Super Bowl Sunday and all other times of celebration a time of merriment rather than an occasion to find a criminal defense lawyer or DWI/DUI attorney:
– No person is obligated to speak with the police beyond identifying themselves. The risk of being arrested, charged with a crime or charged with a traffic infraction can end up being better than trying to talk one’s way out of a situation with a police officer. Even the greatest orator is out of his or her league when a neophyte in the criminal law, communicating with police.
– If a suspect does not want their pre-arrest silence held against them, they need clearly to state they are going to remain silent.
– A difference exists between exercising your rights with the police and advising others to do the same. Doing the second might invite an arrest and prosecution for obstruction of justice.
– Police sometimes proclaim that if one person does not take responsibility for drugs or other contraband that the police find, then all occupants of a car or room will be arrested. A suspect has the option of first obtaining a qualified lawyer before taking the fall for his or her friends or family members, if ever. Additionally, taking the fall for friends does not automatically mean that they will not also be charged with a crime; for instance, contraband can be jointly possessed by more than one person.
– Sometimes innocent people lie and take the fall for their friends, out of concern that the friend might otherwise get deported or might face stiffer risks as the result of their immigration status, a worse criminal record or a more sensitive job situation. Such lying to police is a crime in and of itself, and people who take such a path can end up regretting it and wanting to recant later, which is a mess at the very least. On top of that, sometimes the person who took such a fall later learns that the risks to the actual driver of the car in a DWI case or perpetrator of the crime are not as bad as first thought.
– When one imagines applying imaginary Krazy Glue to one’s lips, s/he will be less likely to give into the faux ridicule of police for not “cooperating” nor for probably “having something to hide”, nor give into the taunting or pleading of “friends” for being a stick in the mud with the police. Neither the police nor your “friends” are the ones with their liberty on the line as a criminal suspect.
– With police, one question leads to another question to another question to another question. Each question from a police officer gives a suspect a chance to stammer out an incorrect answer that not only can boomerang against the suspect, but can expand into being charged with the crime of lying to police.
– Beware thinking “I have nothing to hide with the police.” Even a person who perceives themselves as completely innocent is not automatically immune from prosecution and conviction, whether the person’s perception is incorrect, the police perception is incorrect, the person looks like the perpetrator of a crime, the person accidentally mis-states an answer to a police officer’s question, or the person unwittingly is in the vicinity or in possession of contraband.
– Allowing police to search one’s person, personal items or home invites a can of worms.
– Each piece of verbal and non-verbal data a criminal suspect or potential suspect gives the police adds to the risk that the police will hear, record, and interpret that data and other data incorrectly. The less a suspect says or does with the police, the less data the police have available to get wrong.
– Doing field sobriety tests for a police officer invites risk, even for those who have had no liquor. How many people are coordinated enough, for instance, to stand on one leg for an extended time period while remembering the officer’s multitude of instructions on this and other field sobriety tests, while other cars whiz by and while the officer’s vehicle’s emergency lights might be flashing away in the suspect’s eyes?
– Blowing into the officer’s handeld roadside breath testing machine (preliminary breat test machine) is voluntary in Virginia and can prove a disaster to blow into.
– Refusing a breath or blood test at the jail or police station in Virginia can risk a refusal prosecution and attendant loss of license without restricted driving privileges, for those charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
– Public intoxication is a crime in Virginia, even though not jailable. Ironically, even being intoxicated in a bar permits a public intoxication prosecution. Getting intoxicated anywhere but one’s own home is a risk.
– Alcohol loosens inhibitions and can unleash anger and poor judgment. Loosened inhibitions must not translate into commission of crimes nor sexual trespasses on others. Those who get angry when consuming alcohol should at best stay away from alcohol or at worst stay away from others when drinking.
– Police are not the friends of criminal suspects, no matter how friendly they act. A criminal suspect’s friends for the case are himself/herself and the lawyer that s/he obtains to assist the suspect.
How one handles the foregoing information can spell a huge difference in whether one gets charged and convicted with a crime, or not, and one’s case outcome and sentence in the event of a conviction.