Will It Hurt My DUI Case If I Can’t Remember The Details Of My Arrest?
Most people who are arrested for a DUI don’t remember all of the details from the time they were pulled over to the time they were released from jail. Typically, people who have a lower alcohol level or a higher tolerance for alcohol will be able to remember more details. When people encounter very stressful situations—like seeing police lights behind them—they tend to go into shock. People start having racing thoughts about what is about to happen and whether they have had too much to drink, all while trying to deal with an officer who will often have a flashlight in their face and will be asking questions.
The officer will also require that they multi-task, such as by asking for information while having the driver retrieve their license, insurance, and registration. When people have to multi-task while under stress, it becomes harder for them to remember the details of what happened. Oftentimes, people are worried there is alcohol on their breath, so they may be more focused on trying not to talk directly to the officer and instead trying to speak and breathe more toward the center of the vehicle. Drivers who have been pulled over also tend to avoid making eye contact with the officers so they cannot see if their eyes are red or watery.
The officer will likely ask the driver to submit to field sobriety tests, which involves following the back-and-forth movement of the officer’s finger within a foot or 15 inches of their nose. People have to try to do what the officer is asking of them and listen to everything he or she is saying at the same time. With so much going on at once, people often have difficulty remembering the details.
An individual should not be overly concerned if they don’t remember everything that happened at the scene of a DUI arrest. It is quite common that people don’t remember much at all from the incident, often caused by the shock factor. Of course, other times, memory complications do come from actual impairment from the drugs, alcohol, or both. Over time, some people start remembering the details, or their memory will come back once they read the police report. Depending on which police agency conducts the arrest, we may have access to the officer’s body or dash camera, which might include footage of how the individual performed on the field sobriety tests. Watching those videos can also help jog the memory of the individual who was arrested.
It’s not necessary for the attorney to know every single detail in order to handle someone’s DUI case. I just want to know how much the client remembers, as this will help me evaluate the case and know what we are dealing with. When I meet with someone, I ask a lot of important questions. However, if someone can’t remember, they are not required to answer, of course. A person should never decide not to call an attorney because they are embarrassed that they won’t remember everything or worried that they will look bad. They should call an attorney right away.
As soon as someone who was arrested and charged with DUI is released from jail, I always recommend they hydrate, sleep, and then call the attorney while the event is still fresh in their mind. Although they might not remember most of what happened, they can still help the attorney understand the procedures. I have handled thousands of DUI defenses over the last 28+ years, yet my clients still provide me valuable information because I am never there when they get pulled over and arrested. It is really important for a person to talk to an attorney, regardless of whether they remember everything, some things, or nothing at all.