Drunk Man driving with beer in hand pulled over by police

What Should I Do if I’m Stopped and Have Been Drinking?

Guilfoil Law Group  April 29, 2024

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious matter that can have far-reaching implications. Whether you’re a resident of Kansas City or a more rural Missouri community, it's crucial to understand how the state handles DUI cases and what to do if you're ever stopped under the suspicion of drinking and driving.  

Knowing your rights in these stressful situations can make a significant difference in the outcome. This guide is designed to help you take the right steps, protect yourself, and make informed decisions. 

If you or a loved one is facing charges, contact us at Guilfoil Law Group for skilled defense representation. Our attorney is ready to help you navigate the legal system and fight for your rights. 

Understanding the Legal Limits and Penalties

In Kansas City, as in the rest of Missouri, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08%. For drivers under 21, any level of detectable alcohol in their system is prohibited.  

The penalties for DUI in Missouri depend on the number of previous offenses and other factors, such as if there was a minor in the vehicle or if an accident occurred. 

A first-time DUI offense in Missouri can lead to the revocation of your driver's license for 90 days, with the possibility of restricted driving privileges. 

But no matter how clean your record may be, if your first DUI resulted in an accident, especially one causing injury or death, the consequences can include felony charges, which means lengthy prison sentences, and significant fines. Penalties can also escalate if a minor was present in the vehicle at the time of the offense, or if your BAC was significantly above the .08% limit. 

Having a foundation of knowledge about the legal limits and penalties in Missouri can help you understand the gravity of a DUI charge and make informed decisions when faced with a potential arrest. 

Keeping Calm & Exercising Your Rights When Pulled Over for DUI

When you see those flashing lights behind you, it’s key to remain calm. We know this is easier said than done. Even if you just had one drink, the prospect of being pulled over for a DUI can still be nerve-wracking. However, keeping your wits about you and exercising your rights can make all the difference. 

As soon as you can, pull over to the safest spot on the road and turn off your engine.  

When the officer approaches your vehicle, be polite, but also exercise your rights. You don't have to incriminate yourself, meaning you can stay silent and refuse field sobriety tests (FSTs) or a portable breath test. 

But you should know that, even if you refuse the tests, you can still be arrested for DUI if the officer thinks you're intoxicated. If arrested, refusing a chemical test means your license gets suspended automatically.  

Steps to Expect After an Arrest

Following a DUI arrest, it's extremely important to seek legal representation. A DUI lawyer can assist in working through the complexities of the legal system, building a defense, and representing you in court.  

You will likely need to appear at an arraignment, where you will be formally charged and asked to enter a plea. Your lawyer will then work to gather evidence, which may include police reports, video footage from the stop, and the results of your chemical test. They may also negotiate with the prosecutor for a reduced charge or plea deal or prepare your case for trial.  

If the case proceeds to trial, your attorney will represent you, and a judge or jury will determine your guilt or innocence. 

Throughout every phase of the process, it's important that you follow your lawyer's advice and avoid discussing the details of your case with anyone else. This includes social media, as anything you say can potentially be used against you in court. 

Alternatives to Drinking and Driving

The best way to handle a potential DUI situation is to avoid it entirely. Always designate a sober driver, use a rideshare service, or take advantage of public transportation when you plan to drink. Kansas City has various resources available, including the RideKC system, taxis, and services like Uber or Lyft. 

We understand that mistakes happen. But we also want to help inform people about the importance of safety and protecting your own rights and freedom. The law is tough on people who've been charged with drinking and driving because of how dangerous it is and how many alternatives are available. 

Knowing Is Not Enough: Educate Others

Once you've familiarized yourself with the rights and resources available to you when it comes to DUI stops, the next step is to share this information.  

Friends, family, and social circles can all benefit from understanding the seriousness of DUI and the appropriate steps to take. With so much at stake, everyone should be equipped with the knowledge to protect themselves and make responsible choices. 

Legal Help Is Here When You Need It

Following these guidelines can make a significant difference in how your case is handled. Stay informed, stay safe, and be aware of the many alternatives available to avoid the risks associated with drinking and driving. 

If you've been arrested for drinking and driving, don't hesitate to reach out for legal help. At Guilfoil Law Group, we have the experience and insights needed to guide you through this challenging time and seek a fair outcome.  

Contact us today for a consultation. Our DUI law firm is located in Kansas City, Missouri, and serves clients throughout Clay County, Platte County, Jackson County, and the rest of the state.