As a criminal defense attorney, I am often asked this question by my clients “what should I do if I am pulled over for a DUI?” Most of the time it is after a DUI arrest while they are sitting in my office. Here are a few tips if you find yourself in the following situation:
You are driving down the road and it’s late in the evening or early in the morning and you see flashing blue lights behind you. You are being pulled over by the police. You think to yourself, I had a few drinks several hours ago, but I feel fine. The officer is walking toward your door, what should you say to the police?
Well a very typical lawyer answer is: it depends. First and foremost be polite to the officer. The officer has a job to do and he or she is just doing their job. You can be nice without making any admissions of guilt. However, I urge you not to say anything that could be used against you.
What if the officer asks if I’ve been drinking?
You have a legal right to remain SILENT. You may think that being honest and admitting to the officer that you had a beer several hours ago, will help convince them that you are ok to drive. This is not the case. This is an admission and it will be used against you. NEVER admit that you have been drinking or taking any illegal or prescription medications.
What if the officer asks to look at my eyes or walk in a straight line?
If the officer suspects that you are impaired, he or she will likely ask you to submit to what they refer to as “standardized field sobriety evaluations.” These roadside tests typically include looking at your eyes, walking a straight line, and holding your foot up while counting out loud, and blowing into a handheld portable breath test on the side of the road. What the officer will not tell you is that these evaluations are voluntary. You do not have to agree to do anything. The officer is trying to find evidence that you are impaired to use against you. If you refuse, then that is less evidence that can be used in a case against you.
If I refuse the testing does that mean I will be arrested?
Possibly. More often than not, if you are being stopped based on an officer’s suspicion of DUI, there is not a lot you can say to persuade the officer not to arrest you. Every statement you make and test you perform can and will be used against you. It is better
to refuse to submit to those evaluations and hire an experienced attorney who can help defend you.
What if they ask me to take a test of my breath or blood?
It is very likely the officer will ask you to submit to a test of your breath or blood to determine the level of alcohol concentration in your system. If this happens, remember you can refuse this testing. Now the officer will tell you that your license may be suspended for up to a year based on a refusal, but again an attorney can help you navigate that issue.
Now the best advice I can give is to plan ahead and urge you to use a designated driver or a transportation service.
If you find yourself facing an arrest for DUI, contact The Law Office of Nicole L. McArthur. Our office has the experience you need and will fight for your rights.