Frank Fernandez is an experienced criminal defense lawyer, who has defended clients against charges of drunk driving for years. It is important to understand your rights before getting pulled over especially when the consequence of your actions can result in a long suspension of your driver’s license for refusing to take the breathalyzer to potential incarceration if convicted of driving drunk.
Having been a former prosecutor attorney Fernandez is well aware of the best trial strategies in trying to overcome a failed breathalyzer or field sobriety tests. He also works with private investigators who are former State Troopers and expert toxicologists to present the best case possible at trial.
When an officer pulls you over it is because he has in his mind a good reason to do so, or what is known as a “reasonable suspicion” that either a traffic violation has occurred or a crime such as operating under the influence is being committed. The reason for the stop can be as simple as a broken taillight to observations of swerving within a lane, crossing back and forth over a center line or speeding or driving too slow. Whatever the reason the officer when approaching your vehicle after a stop will always be very aware of your appearance, what you are doing and saying and what is taking place in your vehicle.
Any experienced state trooper or police officer will tell you that vehicle stops are always a great unknown and the most dangerous part of their job. From an officer’s perspective, he never knows who is inside a vehicle as he approaches and will always assume the worst, that a person may be armed and dangerous. Troopers and officers are shown surveillance videos in their training academy which show officers being shot and killed performing what looks like an innocent, routine traffic stop in the middle of the day. They approach your vehicle alert and ready for anything. It is important to know the officer’s perspective; it is his observations that will be recorded in his report and form the basis of his testimony at trial.
Always be respectful to an officer during a car stop. If asked to step from a vehicle be aware of how you do so and how you stand in front of the officer. He will be observing whether you pull yourself out of the seat using the car to balance yourself or lean on the vehicle and whether you are swaying as you stand. Observations will be recorded as to your physical appearance, whether your breath smells of alcohol, whether your eyes are blood shot, whether your clothing is neat in appearance or unkempt and disheveled in appearance. Anything you say to the officer and how you say it, such as slurred speech, will be in his report. Listen to what he asks you and give short, polite answers directly in point with what is asked. Be prepared to answer routine questions such as providing license and registration, where are you going, where did you come from, have you been drinking, are you aware of the speed limit or reason for the stop.
Being prepared and responsive once an officer approaches your vehicle gives you the best chance at trial. To be able to ask an officer months after an arrest at trial to recall my client’s behavior and whether he was polite and responsive to his questions, and confirm that he did not lean on his vehicle or sway can mean the difference between winning and losing a case.
Drunk driving laws OUI, DUI in Massachusetts: