A drunk driving arrest is very serious; but what many Eau Claire residents may not know is that it is just as serious for the police as it is for you. If the police infringe on your rights, violate due process or mishandle your OWI case in any way, the charges against you could be dismissed.

So what are some things to remember and look out for if you are pulled over on the suspicion of an OWI?

First of all, you are under no obligation to let the police search your vehicle. There are only two ways that a police officer can search your vehicle: if you allow them to, or if the officer has probable cause (“appearing intoxicated” is a common reason police obtain probable cause). You also don’t have to answer the officer’s questions about your alleged drinking, questions like “how many drinks have you had tonight?”

Second, if a police officer requests that you perform field sobriety tests, you should probably comply. Field sobriety tests have been critiqued for some time now as not being the most accurate way to judge a person’s intoxication. Many sober people cannot perform field sobriety tests, simply because the tests involve unnatural acts that many people can’t do without practice. A “failed” field sobriety test could be challenged later.

Third and finally, a DUI checkpoint must be posted by the police for public notice before they deploy the tactic. If the police failed to properly notify the public — with specifics about the location and time of the checkpoint — then any OWIs from that checkpoint could be appealed.

Source: WFTS, “DUI Checkpoints — know your rights about breathalyzers and field sobriety exercises,” Ryan Beckler, July 25, 2013