Let’s face it: No one has much sympathy for a driver caught behind the wheel while drunk. But just because you’ve been pulled over doesn’t mean you have to immediately plead guilty to DUI. There are steps you can take.
The first step is to remember that, even if you haven’t been arrested, everything you say and do could be used against you in court. The police officer will write a report about the incident that will include everything the officer remembers that you said or did. That’s why it’s important to know exactly what you can say or do when pulled over.
Officers can’t pull you over just because they suspect you of DUI. They will use “reasonable suspicion” that you might be driving while intoxicated to pull you over that will include any traffic violation. These reasons could include:
- Driving too slow or too fast
- Drifting, swerving or weaving
- An illegal or unusually wide turn
- Failure to use or improper use of turn signals
- Broken headlights or taillights
- Frequent accelerating, braking or stopping
When pulled over
When an officer signals you to pull over, do so in a safe, easy manner. Use your turn signals.
Keep your hands where the officer can see them. Have your driver’s license and insurance card handy but don’t make sudden moves. When talking to the officer, be polite and not rude.
Don’t admit any guilt. Offer only your name, address and license information. Don’t tell the officer you had just one drink or that you had a drink but it was hours ago. Any admission of drinking is an admission of drinking. However, if you have not been drinking, go ahead and tell the officer.
If asked to get out of the car, do so. Refusal to get out of the car is illegal.
Field sobriety test and breathalyzer test
In the police report, the officer will note:
- Any alcoholic odor
- Flushed skin
- Watery eyes
- Slurred speech
- Slowed motor skills
You do not have to consent to field sobriety tests. These tests are very subjective and will be used against you. They are not mandatory. You can politely but firmly refuse to perform a field sobriety test.
Breathalyzer tests are another matter. Under the state’s implied consent law, you agree to take a breathalyzer test simply by driving on the road. If you refuse, you could face a punishment of up to one year of license suspension.
If you are arrested for DUI, your next step is to contact a qualified, experienced attorney to help you through the legal procedure.