DUIs are serious offenses and they can have a major impact on your life for years if you’re convicted. That’s why it’s important to know what to do if you are pulled over for DUI (driving under the influence). If you take certain steps both when you’re stopped and afterward, you can help lower your chances of a conviction. The following are helpful tips to give you the best chance of staying out of trouble when you’re pulled over for DUI.
You want to think clearly and remain calm if you are pulled over for DUI. Try to stay relaxed and carry out the investigation in a way that won’t make you look bad to the officer, or in front of a jury if you end up going on trial.
Cooperate With the Officer
The police officer that pulled you over will write your police report. This report will be very important for your upcoming trial if you are charged with DUI. It is the key piece of evidence used against you in a DUI case. If you are cooperative and nice, the police report will not hurt your case as much, and the prosecution will have to rely more on other evidence to convict you. If you are angry or arguing with the officer, you are likely to appear more intoxicated and will have greater difficulty defending your DUI case.
Prepare to Give Your Driver’s License, Registration, and Proof of Insurance
Providing the officer with you driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance is all standard procedure. Don’t fight the officer on this or delay. It’s best if you have all the necessary materials ready to go ahead of time and hand them over right away when you’re asked.
You Don’t Need to Answer the Police Officer’s Questions
When you’re pulled over for DUI, the officer may ask you questions like, “have you been drinking?”, “how much?”, “do you feel the effects of alcohol?”, “what have you eaten in the last 24 hours?”, etc. If you’re pulled over for DUI, it’s important to know that you don’t have to answer the officer’s questions. You have the right to speak to an attorney first. You have only been detained during a traffic stop at this point. This means that while you are not free to go, you are not yet under arrest or in custody. You have the right to politely decline answering any of the officer’s questions. Just be sure to do so politely so you do not create further suspicion of your intoxication.
Don’t Be Intimidated
The officer might continue to press you and question you, but don’t let them bully you. Giving the officer more information and making unnecessary comments will only hurt your case. So stay strong and don’t back down in the face of intimidation. So, keep talking to a minimum because any information you provide can come back to haunt you in a future court appearance.
You Can Refuse to Take the Sobriety Tests, but It’s Risky
If you have been drinking when you’re pulled over, you will almost certainly fail a sobriety test. Sobriety tests are designed to make you look bad and appear intoxicated. The important thing to know is that you do not have to take the sobriety test and the officer cannot force you to do so. The problem is, you can still be arrested for suspicion of DUI and you may have to go to jail for the night. Refusing to take the field sobriety test can also result in a suspension of your driver’s license under “implied consent” laws.
So even though the state will have much less evidence against you and the prosecutor will have a hard time proving you are guilty of DUI, refusing to take the field sobriety test is not always the best idea.
Choose the Breathalyzer Test Over Blood or Urine
If you refuse to take the field sobriety test, you will need to submit a chemical test of your breath, urine, or blood to prevent losing your driver’s license for a year or more. Refusing the chemical test can make things worse for you because even if you don’t get a DUI, you will lose your driver’s license and you won’t be able to drive.
If you don’t want to risk losing your driver’s license, you will have to take some form of test, and the breathalyzer is typically your best bet. Breath tests are easier for a lawyer to attack in court and there have been many factors used to challenge the accuracy of breathalyzer tests. The point is, you want to make sure your DUI case is as strong as possible, and the more evidence of intoxication the officer can find, the worse off you will be in court.
Pay Attention to What the Officer Says and Does
If the officer gives you false information about your rights, there is a possibility of getting your case dismissed. Make sure to pay attention to what the officer tells you, and discuss everything he does with a lawyer. For example, if the officer tells you that you have to answer his questions or that the sobriety test is mandatory, you may be able to get your case dismissed from court. So listen and observe carefully.
Get A DUI Lawyer
Don’t do yourself a disservice. DUIs are serious matters and the negative consequences of a DUI can cause problems in many other areas of your life. You will need a lawyer if you want to have any hope of getting off the hook. So consult with a DUI lawyer after you’ve been pulled over to determine what the best course of action is. You never know, you may be able to get out of trouble all together.