DUIs are among the most common traffic stops police officers make. Although speeding and broken tail lights are of concern to law enforcement officers, they’re more concerned about keeping drunk drivers off the road.
Every year, more than 1.5 million people are arrested in the United States for driving while under the influence of intoxicants. That doesn’t include all the traffic stops during which the officer chooses not to write a citation or make an arrest.
You’re well aware you should never drive when you’re under the influence, but if you happen to make a poor decision one night, or you find yourself accused of driving drunk when you haven’t consumed any alcohol, you need to know what to do so to ensure your good record isn’t ruined.
You’re less likely to experience a wrongful arrest if you always practice safe driving, of course. A police officer must have probable cause to arrest you, so don’t give it to him (or her). Always arrange to have a designated driver or give the alcohol you choose to consume more than enough to time to run through your system before you hit the road.
Don’t Act Suspicious
If an officer does signal you to stop, pull your car safely to the side of the road and stay in the car unless requested to exit. Turn on the interior light and keep your hands on the steering wheel.
Remember that the officer doesn’t know you, and he or she is only pulling you over based on a hunch, or perhaps an unrelated issue, such as a tail light that’s out or a failure to signal a turn. Don’t do anything that could make you appear to be a threat, incriminate you, or otherwise get you in trouble.
If the officer asks you to do something, such as to get out of the car or produce your license and registration, do so slowly and keep your hands in plain sight. If you’re open and honest in such matters, you’re more likely to exit the situation without a problem.
Refuse Roadside Tests
If you’ve been pulled over specifically on suspicion of driving drunk, the officer may employ a variety of procedures to obtain proof that you have been impaired. The officer might ask for a breathalyzer test or a urine sample.
He or she might also ask you to walk in a straight line or recite the alphabet backward. You have the right to refuse any of these roadside tests, and you should. Without your consent, the officer can’t force you to do any of them.
A law enforcement official might try to trick you into taking these tests, but you should stand strong and recite your rights if you are asked to collaborate in a potentially incriminating action.
Ask for a Warrant
A breathalyzer test can be administered without any documentation. If a positive breathalyzer test comes up in court, it can be introduced as incriminating evidence. For that reason, it’s best to refuse the breathalyzer test until you’ve spoken with your lawyer.
In contrast, recent a U.S. Supreme Court ruling stated that officers must have a warrant to test blood or urine since it’s a highly invasive procedure. Any urine or blood tested without your consent can be dismissed, and your DUI charge is more likely to get completely thrown out of court.
Your behavior when you interact with the police officer could for a lot in how the matter turns out. If you remain polite and answer questions openly and honestly, you’re more likely to get a lighter sentence.
Though it’s understandably stressful to get pulled over by the police, it’s essential for you to keep your head and display good manners.
Be Honest, But Don’t Answer Every Question
The police officer may ask you a variety of questions during the stop. Do not lie, but you don’t have to answer any potentially incriminating questions.
Sometimes, answering simple questions can make you appear guilty, even if you’re not. It’s wisest to hold off to speak to your lawyer before talking about the events of the evening to anyone else.
Questions about your name, license, registration, and other personal details are all right to answer. But if an officer asks you where you’re from, how much you’ve had to drink, or other potentially risky questions, you can simply say, “I’m sorry, but I’ve been advised not to answer your questions.”
Always remember you have a right not to answer, and you’re more apt to avoid saying anything that could lead to an immediate arrest.
Call Your Lawyer
If you’ve been arrested on suspicion of DUI, whether you’re guilty or not, you’ll want an attorney on your side. He or she will know all your rights and obligations, and after you’ve spoken with the lawyer, you’ll know them too.
To raises your odds of a win, write down everything you can think of about your arrest, as soon after it as possible. This includes details about where you were driving from, how much alcohol you consumed that day, how long it had been since you consumed any, the time of the stop, what the officer said, where you were pulled over, and every other detail.
Even the tiniest facts could help your lawyer build a strong case on your behalf.