When it comes to serious driving offenses, there are few things more devastating than being charged with a DUI. The consequences of such a charge can be life-changing, and not in a good way. That is why it is important that you understand what to do should you ever be pulled over the suspicion of driving while under the influence. There are a few things in particular that you should keep in mind in order to get out of the situation as painlessly as possible.
Do Not Incriminate Yourself
One of the main issues that people find themselves facing with regards to being pulled over under suspicion of driving while under the influence is the tendency to want to cooperate with the police. Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do so. You should, of course, be respectful and polite at all times. But what you should not, under any circumstances, do is offer up information or answer questions about the stop, your driving, or your evening. Hand over your license and registration when asked, and decline to answer any questions.
Note that refusing to answer questions includes the standard “do you know why I pulled you over” query that comes standard with most traffic stops. Do not guess at the reason, simply respond with “no”. Do not answer questions about whether or not you’ve been drinking, either. You have the right to remain silent, and it’s a good idea to use it. This might be difficult, especially if the officer becomes visibly annoyed by your refusal to engage in conversation, but it the best course of action.
Understand You are being Detained
When you’re pulled over to the side of the road due to a traffic stop, you are not free to simply leave whenever you’d like. In fact, you are generally considered to be “detained”, but not yet “in custody”. This is an important distinction because as long as you are not officially in police custody, officers do not have to Mirandize you. That means that they are free to ask you incriminating questions without reminding you that you do not have to answer them. Refer to the above point for more information regarding why you should not answer questions and instead simply decline to answer.
Do Not Take Field Sobriety Tests
Much like answering the questions police officers ask you during a traffic stop, performing field sobriety tests is an optional decision. You do not have to do them, and in fact it is probably better that you do not do so. These are highly subjective and any perceived “error” can and will count against you. Politely decline to perform them – this is the best and least self-incriminating option.
About Breathalyzers and Chemical Testing
Unless you are under 21 or are on probation, you generally do not need to submit to a Breathalyzer – the test administered on the side of the road. Should you be placed under arrest, of course, then all bets are off and you should cooperate with the test.
The bottom line when it comes to DUI charges is that you do not want to treat them lightly. Find a lawyer who will be able to ensure your rights are protected.