One of the most dangerous things a reasonable person can do is to drive drunk. A DUI can not only result in physical harm to you or others, it can destroy your reputation, your savings, and so much more. Mistakes in judgment do happen though; we are human after all. If you are pulled over by the police try to keep the following in mind:
- Remain Calm. When you are pulled over it is important to keep in mind that the officer is observing everything you do. Try not to stop abruptly, drift in and out of lanes, or hit the curb or guardrail as you pull off the road. Such behavior could be used as evidence against you in court.
- Be Polite and Respectful. Have everything ready (driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance) before the officer is at your window. When the officer talks to you, do not be argumentative or rude. Your attitude towards the officer can be used against you in court. It is better to have the judge hear that you were cooperative and polite than disrespectful.
- Do Not Lie. The worst thing you could do during a DUI stop is lie. Lying destroys your credibility in court and makes it difficult to mount a strong defense. Instead, when the officer asks if you have been drinking, politely tell the officer, ” I would like to speak with an attorney before I answer questions.” This phrase is your best defense in a DUI situation. Once said, refuse to answer any questions until you talk to an attorney.
- Decline to Take the Field Sobriety Tests. These tests (like reciting the alphabet, standing on one leg, walking a straight line, etc.) are voluntary. You do not have to do them if you do not want to. Tell the officer that you do not wish to do them. The officer is likely to warn you that refusing to do the FSTs will result in your arrest and/or suspension of your driver’s license. This is true, but it is also true that by this point the officer was probably going to arrest you anyway.
- Take the Breath Test At The Police Station. Unless you spoke to an attorney that told you otherwise, take the breath test at the police station. Refusing to take the breath test can be used against you in court and increase the mandatory minimum sentence if you are found guilty of a DUI. The breath test is more reliable than FSTs and courts tend to trust the results.
- Sometimes an officer will ask you to take a portable breath test (PBT). This test is voluntary, just like the FSTs. DO NOT CONFUSE THE TWO TEST! The PBT is voluntary and refusing to take it will not be used against you in trial. The breath test at the police station, while technically voluntary, has severe penalties if you refuse to take it. Take the one at the police station, unless your attorney tells you otherwise.
Bottom Line. Do not lie and ask to talk with an attorney before you answer any questions. It would not be a bad idea to have an attorney on speed dial on your phone.
If you ever find yourself facing a DUI charge give us a call. Several of our attorneys are former prosecutors and are intimately familiar with the criminal justice system. We can go over your legal options and represent your case in court.