What should you do if you are stopped for a DUI?
Should you take a field sobriety test? Should you accept a BAC test? Do you need to answer the police officers questions?
When someone is stopped by the police, regardless of whether or not hey have been drinking, they are nervous and don’t know exactly how to act. You never know if the officer will cut you a break if you are completely honest with them, or if admitting you did something wrong will instead make things worse. In most cases, you want to limit the statements or evidence you provide to the police. If the officer stopped you… things are already not going well.
In a DUI traffic stop situation, what you should do or say begins before you even start to pull over. Keep in mind that the officer’s main concern is safety; the officer’s safety, the public’s safety, and your safety. When you see a police officer behind you with his lights on… continue to drive in a safe manner. Keep your hands on the steering wheel, use your signals, and only pull over when and where it is safe to do so. When being stopped a busy street or freeway, the shoulder is not likely the best or safest place to stop. Continue to drive safely and pull off the main road to a well lit and low traffic area. Often times, the stopping officer will direct you with the car’s loud speaker...so you may want to turn off your own radio and open the windows so that you can hear the officer’s directions.
Once you pull over, stay in your car with your hands on the steering wheel. The officer will come up and talk to you through your already open window. Don’t start to look for paperwork before you are asked to... because the offier will not know what you are doing, and may think that you are hiding something.
When the officer does ask you questions, it is best to listen, slow down and be careful. Answer only questions about your license, registration and insurance, and don't get confused by cops asking for multiple different things at the same time. Do one task at a time. Don't fall for the old 'get your registration from the glove box and your driver's license from your wallet' at the same time. Do one, and then the other.
You don’t have to answer questions about where you were coming from or where you are going. These questions are designed to get information and evidence to eventually convict you. Be polite...and vague.
If the officer asks you to get out of your car, things are going poorly. At that point, he officer already believes you have been drinking and are impaired. The officer wants to collect evidence to convict you. If you are asked to get out of the car and asked to do field sobriety tests, you will have to respectfully decline. The field sobriety tests are very subjective, which means that they are open to interpretatation...and nothing good can come from them. You do not have to do field sobriety tests, and you should not. You may get arrested because of your choice not to do the tests… but (1) you were likely going to get arrested anyway, and (2) they will not have evidence to prove impairment based on your acrobatic ability.
Although you do not have to do field sobriety tests, you DO HAVE TO DO a chemical test, either breath or blood. YOU MUST SUBMIT TO A CHEMICAL TEST! Although it is great to defend a DUI with no blood alcohol results at all… the potential downside and possible penalties make a refusal much worse than a regular DUI.
A good DUI Defense Attorney can pick apart either a breath or a blood test...but it is better to take the blood test. There are many reasons that a blood test is better in this situation. Blood testing is more accurate, can be re-tested, requires more time, and a lot of other beneficial factors.
If you are stopped and ultimately arrested for a DUI, you will likely be held for a few hours. What you do after you are released is also very important. The stress of a DUI stop and arrest is tremendous. You are going to need help getting through the system, and protecting your rights, your driver’s license, and your well being.
After being released, you will want to get your car out of impound if the police took it. The tow yard will charge a fee, and the longer the car sits the more it costs. After getting your car back, you will want to get some rest. Once you get some sleep, you will want to find an experienced DUI lawyer to guide you through the system, and do everything possible to beat the DUI case and get you your good name back.