Driving under the influence (DUI) tends to stand apart from other criminal offenses because the average DUI defendant has no previous criminal history and is an otherwise law-abiding, educated, middle-class citizen. As such, most motorists who find themselves in the middle of a DUI investigation and arrest are confused and overwhelmed on top of being frightened and worried. Hopefully, you will never be arrested for DUI; however, in case you do find yourself in a position wherein you failed the DUI test, it may be beneficial to have some idea what you can expect to happen next.
Anatomy of a DUI Stop
Although no two DUI stops are the same, most follow the same general pattern. Unless you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint, the first step is for the law enforcement officer to find a reason to pull you over – and yes, an officer must have a reason to conduct the initial traffic stop. That reason may amount to what is referred to as a “pretextual stop,” but there must be a reason. A pretextual stop is one in which the officer uses a “pretext” for the initial stop and then turns that stop into a DUI investigation. A common scenario involves an officer pulling over a motorist for a malfunctioning taillight or for failing to signal when changing lanes. Once the motorist is stopped, the officer may turn the stop into a DUI investigation if the officer believes there is reason to do so.
At this point, if you are the motorist, the officer will ask you some seemingly harmless questions about where you have been and where you are going. You will eventually be asked to perform a series of field sobriety tests and/or submit to a portable breath test. Typically, there I no benefit to agreeing to these tests because motorists rarely pass. Moreover, the results are not admissible at trial but can be used to provide the probable cause necessary to arrest you.
Whether you agree to the roadside tests or not, the officer will either let you go at that point or decide to place you under arrest. If you are placed under arrest, the next stop if the jail or police station where you will again be asked to submit to a test. This tie the test is a chemical test and the results of that test are admissible at trial. You can refuse to take the chemical breath test; however, because of Nebraska’s implied consent law, you will face significant penalties for refusing. In Nebraska, refusing a chemical test can actually result in a separate criminal charge being filed against you. Moreover, if you refuse to take the test, that refusal can be introduced as evidence at trial that you were driving under the influence.
I Failed the Test – Now What?
If you failed the test, you will undoubtedly be booked into the jail and the arresting officer will send a written report to the prosecuting attorney’s office for formal charges to be filed. A bond will be set which, if paid, will allow you to be released from custody while your case is pending. If you have no criminal history, you may be released on your own recognizance, meaning your promise to return for future court appearances. Your first court appearance will be for your arraignment wherein the judge will make sure you understand the charges filed against you and that you understand your rights.
Contrary to what you may be led to believe, failing a DUI test does not automatically mean you will be convicted of the charges filed against you. In fact, there are several common defenses to a charge of driving under the influence that may apply in your case even if you failed the test. The simple fact that the results of the test may not be accurate often provides an excellent defense to a charge of DUI. The key to positive outcome despite the fact that you failed the DUI test is retaining the services of an experienced Nebraska DUI defense attorney as soon as possible after your release.
Contact a Nebraska DUI Defense Attorney at Petersen Law Office
If you are currently facing DUI charges in Nebraska, take the time to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. Contact the Omaha DUI defense attorneys at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced defense lawyer.