If you are ever pulled over by a police officer, regardless if you had just consumed alcohol, it can be nerve-racking and stressful. There is a certain protocol you should maintain to make sure the interaction goes smoothly and efficiently. Here are a few things to keep in mind during the stop.
Pull over quickly as you can – Refrain from driving an extra block or two just to find a place you may feel is more convenient. Pull over immediately by using your signals.
Do not get out of the car – Always stay in the car and let the officer come to you. If it is dark, turn on interior lights and keep your hands on the steering wheel. Since the police officer does not yet know who they are dealing with, this consideration will assist them in understanding your level of cooperation.
Follow instructions – Let the officer be in charge and ask you questions. There is no reason to speak up first and try to justify any of your actions. What you say may be new information to the officer.
Watch what you say – Stay calm and do not argue with the officer. There is no need to volunteer any information even if you believe it will help you. Answer questions and do not make any disparaging comments. Any arguments you have with the officer can wait until you are in a courtroom.
Be aware of your actions – Many police cars and officers have video equipment that will record the interactions of a stop. It is important to remain attentive and orderly. Even if the stop is not being recorded, the officer is closely monitoring your actions.
How much have you had to drink? – This is a common question asked by police officers. Many times, people will answer with an acknowledgement that they may have had one or two drinks. You do not need to provide this information, you can and should stay silent.
In-car sobriety test – Officers may ask you questions as a test to check your sobriety. These tests can range from counting backwards or doing some form of the alphabet. You are not required to perform these tests for the officer. If you are already nervous due to the stop, performing these tests can be very difficult, even if completely sober.
Field sobriety test – These tests take place outside of the car and are more physical in nature. They include standing on one leg and walking a straight line. The office may also ask you to follow a light with your eyes. You are not required or will be held liable if you do not take these tests.
Portable breath test – Officers will often carry hand-held testers to determine alcohol consumption. Even though you are not required to take this test, by refusing you are allowing for greater consequences later if you are found guilty of DUI. Refusing a post-arrest test which can include blood, urine or breath test at the police station, can result in harsh penalties.
Whenever the police stop you, you should take the situation very seriously and not pass it off as a waste of time. You have rights when you are speaking to the police even prior to an arrest. If you are arrested for a DUI, it is important that you speak with an attorney who is knowledgeable about these type of arrests.