Mistakes to Avoid After an Arrest for DWI
Interviewer: What kind of mistakes have you seen people make once they’re arrested that can make their case harder to defend?
Always Be Respectful in Your Interaction with the Police Officers
Jack O’Donnell: People can make mistakes after an arrest for DWI and they include talking too much, thinking they can talk their way out of it and, secondly, being obnoxious to the police officer; because that generally gets written up in the report.
Not that you can expect the prosecutor to cut you much slack anyway, but if there’s another charge or two or three, they may be inclined to throw those out if you were polite and cooperative, but if you weren’t, why should they be accommodating to you?
Interviewer: That makes sense. If you afford them common courtesy then they’re more likely to give you the same in return.
Is Your License Suspended for a Longer Period If You Refuse the Breath Test?
You had mentioned that if you refuse to take that test, your license will be suspended for longer than it otherwise would have been?
Jack O’Donnell: Yes, the penalty is a suspension for six months and you can’t get a work permit for several months. It is six months total as opposed to three months if it’s a first time offense and you’re under a level of .16.
The usual length of a suspension is four months if you’re over a level of .16. However, a refusal is six months and you can’t get the work permit for the first three of those six months. So that’s an incentive for you to take the test.
During Your DWI Trial, a Refusal Is Presented to the Jury as a Presumption That You Were Under the Influence
In addition, a refusal, if you were ever to take it to trial, is a rebuttable presumption that you were under the influence. The jury is told that you can presume that the defendant was under the influence, but he can’t present evidence to rebut that, but once a jury hears that, it does not bode well for you.
Interviewer: So if you refuse the test, the court tells the jury that you are to assume that the person was, in fact, under the influence?
Other Actions That Are Considered Refusing to Comply with the Breath Test
Jack O’Donnell: You can presume, which is different from assuming, I believe. There is also more than one way of refusing the breath test. Another situation where your actions are taken as a refusal is where you claim you’re blowing as hard as you can; however, you might have asthma or the machine may not be working properly and it doesn’t register enough breath air to record a finding.
If this occurs, the police will write it up as a refusal and sometimes people do, in fact, pretend to be blowing and not blow in hard enough manner. The police conclude it was a purposeful act on your part and therefore considered a refusal.
Depending on Your Actions, a Police Officer May Also Decide That You Have Refused to Comply with the Urine Test
The same thing applies with urine tests. I’ve had people go “I stood there for an hour and I just couldn’t go.” You ask for water and of course they won’t give you water because that compromises the integrity of the test, so they put it down as refusal because the officers were tired of waiting for you to urinate.
You May Not Request to Take a Different Type of Test
Interviewer: If either of those situations occurs and you are told that you have refused the test that the police officer offered, can you then opt for or request a blood test?
The Police Can Request That You Undergo More Than One Type of Test
Jack O’Donnell: No, the type of test administered is solely at the discretion of the police. Additionally, they can ask for a second test.
Interviewer: If you comply with breath test, depending on the results, even if they are in your favor, they may think you are under the influence of drugs and they want to do a blood test?
The Police Will Request a Blood Test in the Case of an Automobile Accident or If Your Safety Is Compromised During the Administration of another Test
Jack O’Donnell: In the situation that you just described, the police will most likely ask you to undergo a urine test. A blood test generally is requested if you’ve been in an accident, possibly you are unconscious or it appears your safety’s going to be impaired.
In that case, you are taken to the hospital and then your blood is drawn and the police end up having to get a search warrant for your blood results, which can some time to obtain.
The Number of Drug-Related DWIs in the State of Connecticut Are Increasing
Interviewer: In the DWI cases you have encountered, are most of them alcohol-related or are there a significant number of illegal or prescription drug-related cases?
Jack O’Donnell: Yes, I am seeing drug-related DWI cases with increasing frequency. Over the years, it’s just been a steady increase of people under the influence of oftentimes prescription medication that they’ve been legally prescribed, but if it impairs your ability to drive, then you’ve broken the law. It’s hard for some people to accept, but it’s the truth.
The Drugs Xanax and Percoset Are Commonly Attributed to Drug-Related DWIs
Interviewer: First of all, what are the top prescription drugs that you’ve seen involved in DWIs in your state?
Jack O’Donnell: Well, Xanax, you see that quite frequently with women because of the frequency it is prescribed. You will see Percoset involved in a drug-related DWI for people who have injuries. Those are the two I see the most.
Interviewer: What about Ambien and the other sleep aids, such as Lunesta?
Just Following the Doctor’s Order: Many People Are under the Mistaken Assumption That They Will Not Be Impaired after Ingesting Prescription Medication
Jack O’Donnell: I encounter sleep aids less frequently but anxiety drugs, anti-depressants, and pain pills for people who are thinking that they’re going to be able to take a pain pill and then go on their merry way, but even without consuming a glass of wine or two on top of that, it can cause you to operate a vehicle in an impaired fashion.
Are Drug-Related DWI Cases Harder to Defend than Alcohol-Related DWIs?
Interviewer: Are those cases for prescription drugs easier or harder to defend than alcohol cases?
Jack O’Donnell: They can be easier because there is a burden of proof on the prosecution to show that that the drug was the cause of the impaired driving.
There Are No Additional Penalties for Being Charged with a Drug-Related DWI
Interviewer: Are there different consequences or penalties for prescription medication? How about for illegal drugs?
Jack O’Donnell: There are no additional penalties for drug-related DWIs. With illegal drugs, because they are in your system, you are not in possession of them at that point in time and you do not face an additional charge of possession.
Most Cases of Illegal Drug-Related DWIs Involve Prescription Drugs Obtained without a Doctor’s Prescription
Interviewer: What are the most common drugs you see that attributed to illegal drug-related DWIs?
Jack O’Donnell: Primarily, that involves people taking oxycodone or similar type drugs where they don’t have a prescription for them and obtained them illegally. In the inner cities, there are cases of people under the influence of crack cocaine and PCP.
Interviewer: Do you encounter many marijuana and heroin and cocaine cases?
Jack O’Donnell: Not very often. Those cases are usually for possession, the person is being arresting them for possession of marijuana because you’re smoking it in the car or you have a quantity on you at the time.
There is an occasional arrest for driving under the influence of marijuana but I don’t see it very often.
Will Your DWI Arrest Become Public Knowledge?
Interviewer: When you’re arrested for DUI, how public is this situation going to be? Is work and friends going to find out automatically or can you keep it hidden?
Some Local Papers Publish the Weekly Arrest Records
Jack O’Donnell: It’s all up to your local newspapers. It’s not newsworthy enough generally but some small-town newspapers go over to the police station and take a look at the police blotter. They may print-out all of the arrests, including the DWIs.
So that’s one way and then, of course, I do hear many requests for keeping it out of the paper. And that’s all up to you and the publisher of your local newspaper.
In Order to Apply for a Work Permit to Drive to and From Your Job, Your Employer Has to Sign Your Application
What you can encounter with your employers, in order to get a work permit to drive to and from your job, your employer has got to sign off on your application. In doing so, that is how they find out about the arrest. After being arrested, some people are reluctant to do that but then they have to find alternative ways to get to work.