The purpose of this article is to examine the circumstances of the recent Tiger Woods’s DWI arrest and see what lessons it can teach us about how to react when pulled over for a DUI/DWI stop in Connecticut.
I am sure that by now almost everyone has seen the Police dash cam footage of the world famous golfer Tiger Woods fumbling around trying to recite the alphabet This was a huge embarrassment for Tiger Woods but it can really teach us a lot of things about how to react if you are pulled over for a DUI/DWI by Connecticut Police. Certainly, if Tiger Woods had known his Constitutional Rights better he would have not only saved himself a lot of humiliation but he may have also been able to beat the charge of DWI as well.
Lesson Number 1 – You have the Right to Remain Silent!
If you are pulled over and feel that you have been drinking you should be aware that you have the right to remain silent and you do not have to act as an agent in the Police officer’s investigation against you. If anyone reading this happened to have watched the dash cam footage of Tiger Woods DWI arrest you can see how Tiger Woods would have been much better off just saying simply that he was suffering from some medical problems as a result of recent surgery and did not wish to participate in any field sobriety tests or answer any questions. By electing to attempt to go through the officer’s testing Tiger Wood’s provided to the State very strong and compelling evidence that he was in fact intoxicated.
Watching the dash cam footage they not only made a fool of Tiger Woods but they created firm and compelling evidence of his intoxication. This even though he blew a 0.00 on a breathalyzer test later. It is always better to remain silent and refuse to participate in field sobriety tests (unless of course you are very confident that you are in fact sober). Keep in mind that if you do in fact have any medical conditions which could effect your ability to perform field sobriety tests, e.g. (bad back, knee, balance issues, etc) bring them to the Police officer’s attention and simply refuse to do the test. As we know Tiger Woods just had back surgery and he did not mention this fact to the Police. Another failed opportunity to avoid the field sobriety test.
There is no penalty under Connecticut law for refusal to submit to a field sobriety test. However, I want to draw a distinction between a field sobriety test and a chemical or breath test. Connecticut has an implied consent law for breath tests so you must comply with a police officers request to comply with a chemical or breath test or you face a license suspension and possibly a longer period of having an interlock device in your car.
Finally, it should be noted that field sobriety tests are highly inaccurate and highly subjective. They are conducted in very uncontrolled environments often on the side of roads, on uneven surfaces with bright police strobe lights going off in the dark. The Officer conducting the test may be giving the instructions incorrectly and yet he is the one grading the test. Finally, there is virtually no way to pass a field sobriety test as it is a negatively scoring test. This means that you are hit with points for everything you do wrong in the officers eyes and not given any credit for the thing you do correctly.
For all these reasons if you are stopped for a DUI/DWI politely refuse to participate in a field sobriety test and ask to speak with a Stamford DUI/DWI Attorney before you answer any questions.
Lesson Number 2 – You Don’t Have to Be Drunk To Get a DWI /DUI and You Can Get a DUI/DWI While on Prescribed Medication
Tiger Woods appeared to be totally intoxicated and in another world yet he blew a 0.00 in his breath test and was charged with DWI. He was apparently taking a combination of prescription medication that was prescribed by his medical doctors to treat his recent back surgery and pain issues. Despite the fact that this medication was prescribed by medical doctors, Tiger Woods was still legally intoxicated and properly charged with DWI. Apparently Tiger Woods made admissions to the Police that he was taking Vicodin and other prescription medications. Tiger Woods should have insisted on speaking with a DUI/DWI defense attorney before answering any Police questions.
Under Connecticut DUI/DWI law you can be charged with DWI/DUI if you are under the influence of either an illegal drug or a legal prescribed medication which effects your ability to operate a motor vehicle. If the Police stop you are you are taking some form of prescribed medication which effects your motor skills or coordination it is imperative that you do NOT discuss anything to do with your medical problems or use of medication with the Police.
You have the absolute right to refuse to answer any questions. If the Police officer suspects that you are intoxicated he may ask you if you have been taking any prescription medication – DO NOT answer that question. If you admit that you were taking some kind of medication that effects your ability to drive that would give the officer probable cause to arrest you for DUI/DWI. No matter how many times the Police officer tries to get you to admit taking prescription medication do not answer the question. Tell the Police officer you would like to have a Stamford DUI/DWI Attorney present before you answer any questions. Please learn from Tiger Wood’s errors and do not make the same mistakes.
Keep in mind the author is not condoning or encouraging people to go out and drive around while they are taking Ambien and Vicodin like Tiger Woods. However, my job as a criminal defense lawyer is to educate people about their Constitutional rights and protect them against abusive Police intervention and intrusion. Remember always you have the right to remain silent and never answer any Police questions without a criminal defense lawyer present.
Lesson Number 3 – You Don’t Have to be Actually Driving a Car To Get a DWI/DUI
Tiger woods was sleeping in his car when he was found by the police. Yet this was a valid DWI arrest, why?
Very often in Connecticut responsible citizens who have had “one too many” realize that they are too intoxicated to drive safely and elect to park their cars in a parking spot on on the side of the road and “sleep it off.” Yet under Connecticut Law this is classified as “operation” of a motor vehicle. In State v. Cyr, the Connecticut Supreme Court held that a man who had used a remote starter to start his car (but had not inserted the key in the ignition) and was sleeping in the car in a parking lot was “operating a motor vehicle” within the meaning off the DUI/DWI statute. The Connecticut courts have held that any act that sets forth the process of operation such as merely having the keys in the ignition is a sufficient act to “set in motion to motive power of the vehicle.”
Frankly, I totally disagree with this reasoning. If someone is drunk, I want them to pull off the road and stop. It makes no sense to me to punish someone who realizes they are intoxicated and has stopped driving. However, that is not the law in Connecticut. So keep that in mind. If you are intoxicated do not go anywhere near a vehicle. If it is cold outside do not sit inside the vehicle with the engine running, you could be charged with DUI/DWI.
I certainly wish Tiger Woods all the best in recovering and hope to see him out playing golf again one day soon. However, he really did not handle himself well when stopped for suspicion of DUI/DWI in Florida and for that reason I wanted to highlight some of the mistakes he made because I thought it would be helpful in explaining how to handle your own DUI/DWI stop.
If you have been arrested for DWI/DUI call a Stamford DUI/DWI attorney with 30 years defending DWI cases at the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman today for a free initial consultation. We are available 24 hours a day 365 days a year at 203.357.5555.