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What to Do if Stopped by Police During Fiesta

Steven R. Andrade Aug. 5, 2015

Among all the activities meant for fun and raising community spirit at Santa Barbara's Old Spanish Days Fiesta, there's plenty of opportunities to get into legal trouble if you over do it. If you find yourself in trouble with the law, keep in mind that the Santa Barbara criminal defense attorneys of Andrade Law Offices are ready to help. Steven R. Andrade and the legal team at Andrade Law Offices will defend your legal rights if you have been charged with DUI, underage alcohol consumption and similar charges.

For those new to the area, Old Spanish Days Fiesta has been the premiere summer cultural celebration on the American Riviera for more than 90 years. This year's celebration, built on the theme of Fiesta Romántica, will present music, dance, parades (including the popular children's parade), lots of food, a rodeo and several ceremonies and other events. It's a colorful, lively, extra-long weekend, set for August 5 to 9.

You can enjoy Fiesta without stepping out of line.

And, yes, Old Spanish Days cantinas and vendors will serve more than a few margaritas, cervezas and other drinks during Fiesta.

What to Keep in Mind if Stopped by Police During Fiesta

If you choose to consume alcohol at Santa Barbara's Fiesta and are stopped by police, here are 10 things to keep in mind:

  1. If you have been arrested for DUI, you must comply with the arresting officer's request that you take a breath, blood or urine test for the presence of alcohol in your bloodstream. If you refuse, you will automatically lose your driving privileges and, if convicted of DUI, your penalty will be stiffer.

  2. Never physically resist a law enforcement officer. Ask to be allowed leave or to contact an attorney if you are detained or placed under arrest. Ask why you are being detained, why you are being searched, why you are being arrested and/or what you are being charged with.

  3. If you think you are being unfairly detained by police, you may ask: “Am I being detained?” If the police officer says that you are, you should then ask why. If the officer says that you are not, you should ask: “Am I free to go?” You should speak loudly enough that people around you can hear.

  4. Police sometimes stop people who seem out of place or are acting suspiciously during street fairs like Fiesta. They only need reasonable suspicion to detain you for a brief period. If your interaction with police is consensual, which may be their description but not yours, it requires no justification.

  5. You must be 21 years old to drink alcohol legally. You can be arrested for underage drinking, underage possession of alcohol, or for trying to buy alcohol if you are underage. No matter your age, if you have been drinking and then drive, you risk being stopped and charged with driving under the influence – DUI.

  6. You can be arrested for being drunk in public in California, regardless of your age. The standard according to state law is that you are unable to exercise care for your own safety or the safety of others, or you are interfering with or obstructing or preventing the free use of any street, sidewalk or other public way.

  7. Police must have probable cause to arrest you. Your best bet is to not help police establish probable cause by acting belligerently. Keep your hands in sight and do not make any sudden moves. The slightest wrong move may be taken as aggressive. Always be cordial when dealing with police.

  8. Your right to remain silent is real. You also have the right to decline to be searched and should always do so. You can exercise your rights and decline to answer a police officer's questions or to be searched but should keep in mind that you won't be making a friend by doing so. You may say, politely but firmly, “Officer, I choose not to answer your questions” or “No, sir (ma'am), you do not have my permission to search me, my vehicle or my backpack.”

  9. If you are arrested, decline to answer questions until you speak to an attorney. Your response to every question should be to say politely that you would like to contact a lawyer. Here is a statement to remember and use: “Officer, I want to cooperate with the police, but first I would like to speak to my attorney.”

  10. When in the hands of police, cooperate but don't comment. If you have been arrested, you want a qualified criminal defense attorney to speak for you. You should obtain the services of an attorney as soon as possible. Here is how to contact Andrade Law Offices from jail.

If you are arrested for a DUI or any other charge at Old Spanish Days Fiesta 2015, contact Andrade Law Offices as soon as you can. We understand what you're going through and we're ready to help. We also discount our fees for college students.