DUI Myths Debunked – Part I

shutterstock_241535338-thumb-400x267-65292-thumb-400x267-65293There are a lot of urban legends, tall tales and misinformation going around about DUI laws in Nebraska. In other words, DUI myths.

In this two part series – DUI Myths Debunked, Hightower Reff Partner Attorney and criminal law guru Susan Reff sets the record straight about some popular DUI myths.

While it’s never a good idea to drink or take drugs and drive, it can be helpful to have an understanding of what the law really says on the topic of driving under the influence.

 DUI Myth #1: Everyone gets at least one DUI. It’s no big deal.

False. Even one DUI can be devastating. You can lose your driver’s license for up to one year, pay a $500 fine and may spend up to sixty days in jail.

If your job requires you to drive, this could mean you can’t work. Also, many employers do background checks on prospective employees, so even one DUI conviction could make it more difficult to find employment.

If you are convicted, Nebraska law says you will also have to pay for an alcohol assessment before your sentencing. If it recommends treatment and the judge orders it, you have to pay for that too – and it won’t be cheap. Alcohol treatment programs can cost several thousand dollars.

DUI Myth #2: If the car isn’t moving or I’m not actually driving when the police officer sees me, they can’t give me a DUI.

False. You can be convicted of driving under the influence if you are driving a motor vehicle or are “in actual physical control” of a motor vehicle.

Most often these DUI without actually driving cases happen when someone is asleep at the wheel in a parked car.

DUI Myth #3: Using breath mints or mouthwash or sucking on a penny can fool a breathalyzer.

This is also false. There is an urban legend that the copper in a penny can fool a breathalyzer but it isn’t true. Of course, this is a moot point anyway since today’s pennies are made mostly of zinc, not copper.

Regarding mouthwash and mints: mouthwash or certain breath mints containing menthol can actually cause a false fail of a breathalyzer test because they can be read as mouth alcohol.

The breathalyzer is meant to measure the alcohol on your breath coming from inside your lungs, but it can also pick up alcohol in the mouth – or other substances that can read as alcohol in the mouth. For this reason, police officers always check the inside of your mouth before administering the breathalyzer test so they can make sure nothing is in your mouth that can be misread on the test.

DUI Myth #4: If I refuse to take sobriety tests, police can’t arrest me.

This is also not true. Nebraska law says that by driving a car, your consent is implied to a chemical test or test of your blood, breath and urine to determine if you are driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance.

A police officer with reasonable grounds to believe that you were driving or in the actual physical control of a motor vehicle can require you to submit to sobriety testing.

You can refuse the field sobriety tests without being charged, but not the preliminary breath test (at the scene) or the test at the station. If you refusethat testing, you can be charged with a separate crime and the officer must advise you of that – or the State can’t bring separate charges. The refusal to submit to testing can also be used as evidence against you regarding the DUI charges.

Don’t Go It Alone.

Hightower Reff knows DUI law. Don’t base your decisions if you get a DUI on what you think the law says, or you may fall victim to DUI myths. If you or a friend needs help, contact us. A DUI can be devastating and you shouldn’t go it alone.

Call the office at 402-932-9550, or contact us online and make an appointment to come visit with us about your case during an initial consultation. Don’t go it alone.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts.