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More Mel Gibson DUI fallout

As an Illinois DUI lawyer, I have been following the story of Mel Gibson’s 2006 arrest for DUI. Gibson was pulled over on July 28, 2006 and investigated for DUI. During the course of the investigation, Gibson made anti-Jewish comments.

There were allegations that the LA County Sheriff’s Department attempted to cover up Gibson’s action by, among other things, amending the investigating deputy’s police report to remove some of Gibson’s anti-Semitic statements. The deputy who wrote the original report has sued the LA County Sheriff, alleging that the department damaged his career to retaliate against his telling the truth about Gibson.

If you are arrested for DUI in Illinois, you should understand what happens during the traffic stop leading up to the arrest. You will likely initially have contact with the police because of an alleged traffic offense, suspicious behavior, a citizen’s complaint or a safety checkpoint.

The officer will be on the alert for a possible DUI. Common grounds for suspicion are an odor of alcohol on your breath, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech or fumbling to find your driver’s license, proof of insurance or vehicle registration. Therefore, the less you say, the fewer opportunities there will be to observe the so-called slurred speech. Always keep your insurance card and registration where they are easy to reach, as well as your driver’s license.

There is a good chance the arrest is being recorded with a video camera. This will not be readily apparent, as the small camera is attached to the top of the squad car’s dashboard.

The officer will almost certainly ask you if you have been drinking. If you deny it, he will confront you with the denial (“No? Then why do I smell alcohol on your breath”?) If you admit it, he will ask how much?

Regardless of your answer, the officer will ask you to perform standardized field sobriety tests (SFST). If you take these tests, the officer will “score” your performance. If you, in his judgment, fail, he will ask you to take a portable breath test (PBT).

You are not required to answer the officer’s questions, which he is asking in order to gather evidence to use against you. You have the right to refuse to perform the SFT and to not submit to the PBT. Your refusal to cooperate will not result in a driver’s license suspension or revocation. However, after the police arrest you, they will ask you to take an “official” breath test using a special machine. Your refusal to take the test may result in adverse action being taken against your driver’s license.

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