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What to do if you are pulled over for DUI

Here are some tips you may want to consider if you are ever pulled over for driving under the influence.

You should always know exactly where your driver’s license, car registration and proof of insurance are. As we all know, whenever you are pulled over by a police officer, you are always asked to produce these three items. If you have been drinking, and you are fumbling around looking for your registration or proof of insurance in your glove box, police officers use this, as “evidence” that you were in some way impaired. If you cannot find your wallet or driver’s license, that will also translate negatively in the police report. The police report will be written in such a way that it looks like you were too intoxicated, or impaired to some extent, to produce the requested items without difficulty. So if you know you are going out and plan on having a drink or two, be sure to be prepared so it doesn’t appear that you are intoxicated if you are unable to find your registration or proof of insurance immediately, when in fact it may just be that your glove box had too much clutter and it took a minute or two to find them.

When you are signaled to pull over by a law enforcement officer, be sure to do so immediately and in a safe manner. You should roll down your window and keep your hands on the steering wheel. Once the officer approaches the car, he or she may ask you if you know why you have been pulled over. They obviously know why they pulled you over, and more likely than not, it’s to find out whether or not you have been drinking. However, they may use some minor violation as an excuse to do so. So when you are asked, “Do you know why I stopped you?” remember, you do not have to answer any questions. You may simply respond by saying “Why?” The officer may then tell you why they pulled you over. Or, the next question may be “have you been drinking” or “have you had anything to drink tonight?”
Remembering that you are not required to answer any questions, you may want to politely decline to answer. Most people are afraid to do this for fear that the officer will become angry and arrest right away. People also think that if they tell the truth they may have a chance of not being arrested. The truth is though that if an officer smells alcohol when you are pulled over, they are going to arrest you. The questions, field sobriety tests, and roadside Breathalyzer are just information and tools used to build his case against you. By declining to answer the officer’s questions, you are making it more difficult for him or her to build a case against you.

The same holds true for the field sobriety tests. When the officer asks if you are willing to participate in some tests, field sobriety tests, you are within your right to decline to take these tests. Again, these tests are strictly for the officer to determine whether or not he/she is going to arrest you. The big problem with field sobriety tests is that they are subjective. Some people perform well and some people do not. There are too many other reasons a person may perform poorly on a field sobriety test, other than being intoxicated. So it is recommended that you not submit to this test.

This also applies to the hand-held breath test. The officer will then ask that you take a breath test. You do not have to take this test. These roadside, hand-held breathalyzers are extremely unreliable and often result in higher alcohol readings than are accurate. At this point, the officer has no statements from you and no field sobriety test so the breath test is now the only tool the officer has left to determine whether or not to arrest you. So, unless you have had no alcohol at all, it is recommended that you not take this breath test.

At this point, the officer will probably arrest you if he feels that you are intoxicated. Once you have been arrested and are taken to the police station, you must take a breath or blood test. This is required by law. If you refuse to take either a blood or breath test once you have been arrested, you will automatically lose your driver’s license for one year. So depending upon 1) whether or not you were drinking; 2) how much you had to drink and 3) your drinking pattern, this may or may not play out in your favor.

If you would like to know more about rising blood alcohol levels, visit my DUI website.