I started practicing law in 1994 and since that time I've tried numerous DUI cases all around Mississippi. I have never bothered to count how many DUI cases I've handled but I wouldn't be surprised if the number was in the hundreds. In all those cases one successful common denominator has surfaced: politeness wins cases.
One of the most common indicators of someone who is intoxicated is belligerence. We've all seen the drunk in the bar or restaurant who wants to fight everyone or argue with everyone. They use "F bombs" as nouns, adjectives and verbs. It's almost a cliche. It's also damning evidence in a DUI trial.
The 2nd worst thing you can do when you are stopped by a police officer is argue with them. (The worst thing you can do in my opinion is take the intoxilyzer test). First, the officer is just doing his job. It's not personal. Second, the easiest way to get on a police officer's bad side is to argue with him. I've had clients who were arrested for nothing more than arguing with a police officer after being told to be quiet. My clients insisted that they had a First Amendment right to argue with a police officer. I agreed with them and so does the Supreme Court. However, you have to hire an attorney to vindicate those First Amendment rights. Silence costs nothing.
My two most recent DUI cases bring my point home. Both arrests were captured on audio and video. In both cases my clients were given Field Sobriety Tests (walking and balancing tests) which they "failed" according to the officers. For a humorous example of field sobriety tests, click here.
However, in each case my clients were polite, respectful and cooperative throughout the encounter. I was able to bring this to the officers' attention in both cases and get them to agree that people who are drunk get belligerent and angry while my two clients were very polite and cordial. I believe it really helped win the cases.
My friends are always asking me the best way to beat a DUI. I always tell them the only foolproof way is to not drink and drive. I would rather see the public take cabs or get a designated driver than risk an arrest or something even worse. However, if you ever encounter a police officer please remember to mind your manners. It could help you in the long run.
Charles R. "Chuck" Mullins has been helping Mississippians for over 18 years. Learn more about Chuck at the Coxwell & Associates website.