A replica of Christopher Columbus’ ship, the Santa Maria, is anchored on the downtown riverfront in Columbus, Ohio. It is a memorial to both him and his crew. If you ever have a chance to take a look at this exact model of the 500-year-old vessel, you will notice that it must have taken remarkable skill and agility to raise and lower the sails, steer, and navigate.
Now realize that the entire crew pulled off this amazing feat while drinking. That’s right, with no water on board, wine was their only beverage. It should be a reminder to the people of Columbus that it is still legal to drink and drive. It is only illegal to drive while impaired. This, despite the efforts of those who promote the mantra, “Drink. Drive. Go to jail.”
Don’t give up your 5th and 6th Amendment Rights
“Drink. Drive. Go to jail.” may sound ominous but it is not the law of any state in the union. It is the goal however, of many prohibitionist organizations and police forces that seek to demonize any alcohol consumption whatsoever before driving as being reckless, irresponsible, and morally wrong. That’s a pretty tall soapbox.
If you are stopped for any reason and the officer suspects you have been drinking, you will be the subject of a criminal investigation. Anything you do or say will be used against you, even though you haven’t been reminded of your rights. Don’t be bullied; you have a right to have us present before you answer a single question or agree to any test.
Administrative License Suspension (ALS)
Even though it isn’t a crime to refuse a breath, blood, or urine test, the arresting officer will inform you by reading to you the Ohio BMV form 2255 or ALS form that refusal to take a test will result in a one-year license suspension. This isn’t because you broke a law, it is because you violated a rule set by the BMV for drivers. However, if you test above the limit and end up convicted of DUI, you will still face a one-year suspension. The officer won’t tell you this, nor will he or she counsel you that a good DUI attorney can usually negotiate your suspension due to a refusal down to 30 days, especially if you weren’t found guilty of DUI.
Most people are too intimidated to refuse a breath test, or a field sobriety test. The general belief is that cooperation will somehow mean a more lenient prosecution and lighter penalties. This isn’t true. Anything you have said after the traffic stop can and will be used against you. You score no points for playing nice. Some people fail to obtain proper representation on this false assumption.
Protect Yourself, Protect Your Future
When you are dealing with the courts, it is a game of evidence. Your refusal to cooperate in your own prosecution severely hampers the case against you. However, the BMV will use your lack of cooperation against you through license suspensions and revocation of privileges. This should not discourage you. A DUI conviction becomes a black mark on your record. Any action by the BMV has far fewer consequences than a DUI conviction.
The best way to protect yourself in court and with the BMV is to call us as soon after your arrest as possible. In the meantime, follow the above advice for a more predictable outcome than giving the prosecution the means to convict you.