D.C. drunk driving defense lawyers know that, of course, the most obvious of these rules is not to drink anything before you get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
Still, it’s not illegal to do so, as long as your blood alcohol content is below the 0.08 percent limit.
If you choose to imbibe, some key things you want to keep in mind are:
- Keep your vehicle in good working order, with all of your tags and registration present, in place and up-to-date;
- Drive cautiously and only for short distances if possible;
- Be polite to the officer who has stopped you;
- Say as little as possible.
Smoot, a seven-season corner back for the Redskins through 2009, reportedly broke a number of these.
The incident reportedly occurred the day before New Year’s Eve, though it did not become public until recently when formal charges were filed and he appeared for a status conference in D.C. Superior Court.
According to news reports, a U.S. Capitol Police officer stopped the retired NFL player on Massachusetts Avenue NE because his vehicle had no tags. The 33-year-old would later explain to the officer that while he didn’t have his registration tags with him, the temporary tags had gotten wet from the snow and he didn’t want to lose them.
At this point, the officer noted that Smoot “appeared angry.” When the officer inquired about it, Smoot launched into a diatribe about how he had gotten into an argument with his girlfriend while he was at a nightclub.
Several things are wrong with this. No matter how nice an officer is to you, he is not your therapist or your friend. Smoot may have felt better for unloading his frustration, but it didn’t help his case because he not only told the officer that he’d been at a place where alcohol was served, he gave the officer ample opportunity to note alcohol on his breath and person, as well as his slurred speech.
Smoot then agreed to undergo several field sobriety tests, which he failed. As a general rule, if you know you are intoxicated, it’s probably best not to submit to these tests. They are subjective, more often used against you than not and unlike a refusal to submit to a breath test, you won’t face a penalty for declining.
Smoot did decline a breathalyzer test. In D.C., as in almost all other areas, implied consent laws mean a refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test will result in an automatic, one-year license suspension.
However, it’s worth noting that the officer must have reasonable grounds upon which to ask you to submit to such a test. If there is not, your defense lawyer may ask for a suppression of the results or an outright dismissal of the charge.
We wish Smoot well in the future, and we hope you will take this opportunity to learn from his mistakes. If you are arrested for a DUI in D.C., your first phone call should be to our office.
Contact the Law Office of Daniel A. Gross, PLLC at 202-596-5716.