D.U.I./Criminal and Traffic Defense

What should I do if I am pulled over by the police?
If an officer signals for you to pull over, do so safely. Stay seated, with your hands on the wheel, and your driver’s side window all the way down, until they reach your car. Officers are armed and trained to be cautious and it would be unsafe and unwise to move quickly and/or suspiciously. In approaching your vehicle, the officer will be making observations, including any quick movements on your part (or a passenger’s part) that may involve hiding something from view. Upon reaching your car and interacting with you, the officer will probably request your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance. The officer will be observing the condition of your eyes, the manner of your speech, your coordination when providing your license, your attitude, the condition of your clothes, any illegal items conspicuously visible in your vehicle, and other factors. The most common observation that leads to further investigation is the odor of alcohol or marijuana. If the officer has reason to believe you are intoxicated, they will probably ask you to get out of the car to perform coordination tests. If the officer has reason to believe you have committed a crime, they will likely ask you to get out of the car to be patted down for illegal substances or weapons and transported to the police station.
What happens if I am arrested?
If the officer concludes there is probable cause to believe you have committed a crime (driving under the influence, robbery, assault), the officer will place you under arrest. You will then be transported to the police station. During the interaction with you, the police officer will likely question you about the incident (e.g., where have you been, how much did you drink, etc.). You have the right to remain silent. You do not have to talk to the police. If you choose not to talk to the police, you should tell the officer politely that you do not want to discuss the incident until you consult with an attorney. An attorney can advise you about whether to talk with officers and can talk with them on your behalf.
Should I take the breath test if I'm pulled over for D.U.I.?
At the police station, you will be requested to provide a sample of your breath, blood, or urine for chemical tests to determine the level of alcohol in your blood. You may refuse the tests but before submitting to a test or refusing a test, consider the following possible outcomes : (1) If you take the test and the result is over the legal limit: (a) your license will be suspended for 90 days (or longer if you have prior D.U.I. convictions); and (b) the prosecution will use the results of the test against you in court; (2) If you take the test and the result is under the legal limit: (a) your license will not be suspended; and (b) the results of the test will not be damaging in court, but you may still be charged with D.U.I.; (3) If you refuse the test: (a) your license will be suspended for one year (or longer if you have previously refused); and (b) the prosecution will not have any test results to use against you in court. In Ohio, refusing the test, or testing over the legal limit, will result in an immediate suspension of your license by the B.M.V. called an Administrative License Suspension (ALS) . NOTE: It is unlawful for certain people to refuse the breath test (or other chemical tests). Recent changes in the law make it illegal for a person to refuse the breath test if that person has been convicted of O.V.I. (or an equivalent offense) in the last 20 years. In addition, it is illegal for commercial drivers to refuse a breath test. Also, for a person on probation for O.V.I., it may be a violation of probation to refuse a chemical test.
What will happen to my vehicle if I’m charged with D.U.I. ?
You will probably face immediate impoundment of your vehicle. If your vehicle is impounded, make sure you obtain from the police the location of the vehicle and a telephone number to contact the towing company or impound lot. If this is your first offense, you will probably be able to pick up your vehicle the next day. If this is a second offense or more, you will probably not be able to pick up your vehicle until a judge issue of a court order to release the vehicle. An attorney can assist you in obtaining release of your car.
What if I can’t afford an attorney and I’ve been charged with a crime?
If you meet certain financial requirements, a public defender or a court-appointed lawyer can be assigned to your case.