What to Do if You Get Stopped for a DUI or DWI
While it is highly inappropriate, you may find yourself in the unfortunate position of DUI (driving under the influence) or a DWI (driving while impaired). What happens when you are pulled over for these offenses? Here is a detailed guide on how to act when stopped for a DUI or a DWI.
Pull over in a safe Place
The moment the police officer decides to pull you over, he begins making observations that’ll go into the report. The fact that you’re being pulled over means the officer might have observed some signs that you are impaired or drunk.
While you cannot change that, the police report can have a tremendous impact on the outcome of your criminal case and hearings regarding the revocation of your driver’s license. One key aspect the officer will note is how you pull over. Pulling over in an unsafe area, erratic driving, or abrupt stopping lends credence to the charge of drunk or impaired driving.
Avoid sudden or suspicious movements
It is the nature and training of officers to protect themselves. That’s why they approach a car from the rear, so an attacker would have to turn around completely to attack. This means that you shouldn’t make sudden movements, crouch down in shame, or jump out of the car. It is advisable to keep your hands on the steering wheel until the officer asks to see your license and registration.
Treating an officer courteously will go a long way in avoiding arrest. If you become rude or hostile, the officer might take offense and do everything in his power to get you convicted. Also, he might give you a highly incriminating report. Comply with every order or request from the officer because there is always a very real chance of being charged with resisting arrest.
Don’t answer potentially incriminating questions, but don’t lie
Police officers are trained to use your anxiety against you after pulling you over! When anxious, the possibility of incriminating yourself increases significantly, especially when you are lying. You must give your name, registration, insurance details, and license. What if you’re asked if you have been drinking and how much? In this case, you should politely tell the officer that you have been advised not to answer that question. While that may get you into trouble, it is better than doing jail time for incriminating yourself.
Refuse a field sobriety test
Keep in mind that legally, you don’t have to take a sobriety test. This test is the officer’s most effective tool for gathering evidence against you. While your refusal may lead to the suspension of your license, it may save you some jail time.
Refuse a hand-held breathalyzer
These breathalyzers can be notoriously unreliable, and results are often skewed. By refusing to ‘blow’, it will almost certainly lead to your license being suspended, but it is better than jail time. Therefore, don’t blow while on the road. On the other hand, while at the police station, you may be subject to other tests such as more advanced breathalyzer and blood draws. After being taken into custody, refusing these tests may be construed as resisting arrest.
Take a chemical test at the police station
At the police station, you are obligated to take a chemical test. Mostly, you can select between a breath test and a blood test. Most DUI attorneys recommend breath tests as they are highly unreliable, and attacking their validity in court is easier.
After release, write down everything about the arrest
The more details you note down about the arrest, the easier it will be for your lawyer to fight the charges. Fresh memories are more reliable. Among the details you can write down are:
- Location before driving and what you were doing
- How much you drank and the type of drink
- The duration between your last drink and being pulled over
- The officer’s behavior and instructions
- Your response and conversation with the officer
- When and if your Miranda rights were read to you
No detail is too inconsequential. For instance, most roadside sobriety tests can be affected by factors like tight clothes and high heels.
Consult an attorney
When faced with a DUI or DWI, you need and deserve an accomplished defense lawyer to fight for you. The best thing you can do for yourself is to seek a qualified lawyer with an understanding of the applicable laws to navigate through the legal system.