The very first step you should take after an arrest is to document all surrounding facts, events, and circumstances leading up to your confrontation with police, both prior to and after a vehicle pullover, during the time you spent with the arresting officer(s), and inside the police vehicle.
Starting when you are first aware of a patrol car tailing you, or pulling out from the shoulder of the roadway or a parking lot, take note of the time, the distance your vehicle was followed, and the position of the police vehicle(s) during pursuit and pullover. If you can turn on either your cell phone camera or a good phone recorder app, to attempt to capture (at least) the conversation that may be coming, this could be extremely valuable to your Georgia DUI lawyer in a pre-trial motion to suppress, or during a jury trial. If the recording can also be saved remotely “in the cloud,” so that confiscation or destruction of your cell phone will not destroy the recording, this is the gold standard of preservation of police evidence.
Recordings During An Arrest
Be aware that in 12 jurisdictions in the USA, such recordings or conversations by video camera or tape recorder may be subject to two-party approval, meaning you have to tell the officer you are recording. These jurisdictions are: CA, CT, FL, HI, IL, MD, MA, MT, NH, PA, and WA. In all other states, you don’t have to inform the other party that you are recording in a public place, such as on the shoulder of a public highway, in your vehicle. In March of 2014, a famous state Supreme Court case from Illinois,People v. Melongo, struck down the Illinois law prohibiting a citizen from recording the police officer investigating him at a roadside pullover. The eavesdropping law was ruled “overbroad” and the accused escaped punishment under the law.
When Taken Into Custody
Once the arresting officer has placed you in his or her vehicle to take you to jail for either processing or further testing on a DUI case, he/she may attempt to strike up what seems to be a friendly conversation, or ask you “innocent” questions. Adrenaline may be wearing off and you might feel more like talking or explaining your actions. However it is in your best interest not to talk. Only your name and home address are required, and these can be provided non-verbally by showing your driver’s license that contains that information.
Interacting With Law Enforcement
After you’ve been arrested, the time for you to explain your innocence to the officer has passed. You are not going to be “unarrested.” The officer has already made the decision to arrest you, even though this may not be a legal and constitutional arrest. Anything you say is likely being recorded, and even if not, what you say, and HOW you say it (e.g., with slurred speech), can and will be used against you in the subsequence prosecution of your criminal case. That being said, at your detention center, be polite with jail personnel, but remain silent about your drunk driving case facts.
For most DUI detainees (and other accused citizens arrested for misdemeanor crimes or felony crimes) the entire process of being jailed and booked is rude, invasive, hurtful, and embarrassing. However, you are not in charge. Lashing out at those around you will only make things worse. You will not win a war of words with law enforcement officers. By being combative or abusive, you may galvanize the cops against you. Remain silent, and do what you are told to do…nothing more. The Constitution protects you against non-Mirandized statements after being taken into custody.
Steps to Take Once Released
Immediately after you can get out of detention, call the best DUI attorney in your local court jurisdiction, and set an appointment to see him or her ASAP. Memories QUICKLY fade, especially on the EXACT details of conversations with police, jailers, etc. Plus, over 90% of all OWI-DUI-DWI arrests trigger an administrative license suspension or administrative license revocation action that may cost you the right to continue driving. These administrative license proceedings have short “appeal” deadlines, so act quickly to protect this valuable legal right.
Next, write down all details of your events of the entire day of your arrest, and the exact conversations between you and any law enforcement officer after the stop, even including things said at jail. Some of the most critical details that could help in your eventual defense happened not at the scene of your arrest, but in the minutes and hours before your contact with police, and what you remember as part of your arrest processing. This quick checklist of things to WRITE DOWN will get you started:
- When did you wake up, prior to the arrest?
- Did you take any medications within the last 24 hours before arrest?
- Did you ingest ANY illegal drugs that may appear in a DUI blood test or DUI urine test?
- Was anyone with you at critical times of the day who could vouch for your sobriety?
- What circumstances led to you getting behind the wheel, especially if you were unaware that you would be driving?
- Before you were pulled over, how long had it been since you slept?
- Write down everything you ate, everything you drank, everywhere you went and names and contact numbers of everyone with whom you spoke.
- Did you “smell like alcohol” or “smell like marijuana” for any reason when pulled over? Simple details like what aftershave or cologne you might have put on before your arrest, or being around others smoking weed may be very important.
- Did you eat with a friend or at a restaurant with internal security cameras shortly before your police pullover and arrest?
- Many computerized billing receipts obtained from bars and restaurants can help provide the name of a wait staff worker or the bartender’s name, when investigators go back to track down favorable witnesses.
- Document everything for your DUI lawyer, and let him or her sort through what is potential evidence that may be used for court.