RECAP: Live Facebook Chat with Jason Beahm on DUI Law

Consumer protection, Tips & how-to

On Thursday August 1st, California attorney, Jason Beahm of Beahm Law joined us live on the Avvo Facebook wall and answered consumer questions about DUI/DWI law. Below is recap of the Q&A session. If you have a question about a DUI law, visit Avvo’s free Q&A forum and post it for attorneys in your area to answer.

havenolegalfear#AVVO: Hi Jason, thank you for joining us today. Before you begin answering questions, can you tell us the two or three primary things Reese Witherspoon did wrong during her infamous DUI stop?

JASON BEAHM: One – Do not rant or argue about points of the law, especially if you are not fully informed about what you are talking about.
Two – There is no such thing as a right to “stand on American ground and say whatever you want.”
Three – Saying “do you know who I am,” or other similar things are not likely to help matters. In fact, they will almost always make things worse.

QUESTION: How is getting a BUI different than a DUI? Are the limits for intoxication considered the same when boating?

JASON BEAHM: A BUI (Boating Under the Influence) is very similar to a DUI. The blood alcohol level is the same. Typically they are prosecuted under the same ordinance and the penalties are the same.

QUESTION: Hi Jason, Can teens who post pictures of under-age drinking get in legal trouble?

JASON BEAHM: Can you clarify the question? Are you asking about getting in trouble for posting the pictures, or are you asking about teens being prosecuted because such photos are used as evidence that they were drinking underage?

FOLLOW UP: the question is more about can teens who post pictures of themselves online get an MIP if someone else submits the photos of them to the police?

JASON BEAHM: Potentially, though it isn’t likely that they would prosecute based on the photos alone. A more likely scenario would be that they would contact you and want to ask you some questions. This would be an excellent time to assert your right to remain silent and have an attorney present. It’s extremely unlikely that they could convict based on the photos alone. But if you started talking, you could provide the evidence the district attorney would need to successfully prosecute.

QUESTION: If someone is drunk and at a stop light and someone else runs into them coming from the opposite way is it right to charge the first person with the accident even though they’re sitting there not moving and they didn’t hit the person?

JASON BEAHM: You would not likely be liable for the accident (unless alcohol was a contributing factor), but if the police have a valid reason to come into contact with you (in this case, the accident) and then they determine that you are intoxicated, you can still be charged with DUI. Even if you did not commit a traffic violation.

QUESTION: Does a DUI in one state transfer to a DUI in another state?

JASON BEAHM: Thanks for your question. Most states have reciprocal agreements, where they will share traffic violation convictions that were received out of state with the driver who received the citation. This can be for traffic ticket or a major offense such as a DUI. California has such an agreement.

Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee and Wisconsin are not part of the “Non-Resident Violator Compact (NRVC),” although they may still share information in some situations.

QUESTION: Are you required to take a breathalyzer test? What happens if you refuse to take the test?

JASON BEAHM: That’s a great question, although a complicated one. I can only answer that as to California. In California, you do not have to take the preliminary breath test (administered at the side of the road.) However, the “implied consent law,” says that you do need to provide a blood or breath sample at the police station if you are arrested. Otherwise your license will be suspended for at least a year.

Of course you can still refuse to take the blood or breath test at the station. The police cannot hold you down and force you to give a blood sample, unless they had a warrant. However, if you do refuse, you will have to suffer the legal consequences of your refusal, which could be worse than if you took the chemical test.

QUESTION: Is everyone required to stop at a sobriety check point? What happens if you see it but don’t stop? Do they follow you if you decide to go down a different street?

JASON BEAHM: Great question. This is another one that I can only answer as to California. Ingersoll v. Palmer is the case that laid out the requirements for the legality of checkpoints in California.

There does need to be a way to avoid the checkpoint. Checkpoints must be marked and announced in advance. You may drive away from the checkpoint in order to avoid it. However, if you commit a traffic violation in order to avoid it, you can be stopped for that. The police may also follow you and see if you commit a traffic violation in their presence.

QUESTION: How much open alcohol is allowed to be in a car? Is there a limit or quantity per passenger?

JASON BEAHM: It varies from state to state. In California, you can’t have any open alcohol containers. Even in the states where you are allowed to have an open container, it’s not a good idea.

QUESTION: Do you have to answer all of the questions a police officer asks you after being pulled over?

JASON BEAHM: No, you do not have to answer most questions, and you probably shouldn’t. You should identify yourself, and not answer any questions that could incriminate you. Remember, you have the right to remain silent!