Seeing the red and blue lights of a police car flash in your review mirror can be a frightening experience. Worse, if you’ve been pulled over under suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), you could be facing serious charges. It is vital to know your rights since police may rely on your unfamiliarity of the law to control the situation. Here are a few do’s and don’ts for getting through a DUI stop.
Things to Avoid During a DUI Stop
Don’t say more than you have to: If you are pulled over under suspicion of DUI, it is likely that an officer will ask you questions about your business that day. It is usually best to limit your conversation to short, concise statements or to remain silent altogether. If an officer questions you regarding your activities, you can politely state that you are exercising your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Remember that law enforcement may be trying to build a case against you from the moment you are pulled over. Do not help them by providing incriminating information.
Don’t consent to a search: In order for law enforcement to conduct a search of you or your vehicle, they need either your consent or a warrant. In the case of a DUI stop, it is highly unlikely an officer will have the latter. You are in no way required to allow the police to search your vehicle. It may feel wrong to deny the request of an authority figure during an unfamiliar situation, but it is your right to do so.
Don’t engage in field sobriety tests: Standardized field sobriety tests (SFST) include the walk and turn test, the one leg stand, and the horizontal gaze test. While law enforcement may often lead you to believe that SFST’s are required, they are actually completely voluntary. You will not get in trouble or be punished for denying field sobriety tests. Don’t give law enforcement any information to use against you.
Don’t take the breathalyzer: The preliminary breathalyzer is another test you do not have to take. It is voluntary and requires your consent. Although refusal may further a police officer’s suspicion, if he or she already has probable cause to arrest you, there’s little you can do to stop it. If arrested under suspicion of DUI, it is likely that you will be asked to perform a chemical test at the police station. If you choose to take the preliminary breathalyzer, it will be much harder to argue against the accuracy or reliability of both test results. While you can also refuse the chemical test given after an arrest, doing so will result in an immediate suspension of your license and is not recommended.
Things to Do During a DUI Stop
Comply with basic requests: We mentioned earlier that partaking in field sobriety tests is not recommended, however, it is okay to comply with basic requests. If you are pulled over and the officer asks for your license and registration, you should provide it. If the officer asks you to turn off the car and step out of the vehicle, you should do so as well. It is okay to comply within reason, but if the officer asks you to perform tests or to consent to a search, you can politely refuse.
Remain polite: The manners your mother gave you will go a long way in any encounter with the police, especially during a DUI stop. By maintaining a calm and courteous demeanor, you can show officers that you have nothing to hide. It also leaves little room for law enforcement to interpret your behavior as obtrusive or resistant.
Contact a lawyer as soon as possible: If you have been charged with DUI, choosing the right attorney can be a critical factor in preparing a powerful defense. At Balbo & Gregg, Attorneys at Law, PC, we have more than 25 years of combined experience in criminal defense and have a proven track record of success in DUI Cases. As former military prosecutors, we know how to stay ahead of the prosecution and aggressively defend your rights. If you are in the Richmond Hill or Hinesville areas, call us immediately for a free case evaluation.