No matter the reason, when you see those emergency lights in your rearview it is an intimidating experience. Whether you’ve had a few drinks or not, follow these steps to protect your rights the next time you see those flashing blues.
Slow down & find a safe place to stop.
Take a deep breath, begin to slow your car, remain calm, and take a quick survey of your surroundings. Pinpoint a safe location to pull over in the immediate vicinity, then using your turn signal, safely navigate your way there. Pull far off to the right, if possible, to allow the officer to approach safely. Making sure to come to a complete stop and turning off your engine.
Calmly roll down your window.
Keeping your movements slow and deliberate, roll down your driver side window and other tinted windows. If it is dark, turn on an interior light. Do not reach for anything under your seat, in the seat next to you, or in the glove compartment. The officer will be watching your moves. You do not want them to think you’re reaching for a weapon or trying to hide something.
Keep your hands on the wheel and wait for instruction.
Continue to keep calm. Typically, the officer will request to see your license and registration. If you need to reach in your glove compartment, center console, purse, or bag, avoid any sudden movements and explain to the officer where your documents are located. Make slow and deliberate movements, hand the items to the officer, then return your hands to the wheel.
Speak clearly and respectfully.
Speaking too much, slurring your words, or general belligerence will not help your situation, especially if the officer believes you to be intoxicated. Address the officer as “sir” or “ma’am” and do not become argumentative.
Do not answer incriminating questions.
You are required to provide your name, license, and registration. If the officer asks questions such as “How much have you had to drink tonight” avoid the question.
You can answer “just a glass of wine sir”, if this is the truth, but if you’ve had more than one alcoholic beverage, avoid answering. “Respectfully officer, I’ve been advised not to answer that question” is an acceptable response. The officer will push you further, but better to not answer than lie or incriminate yourself.
Refuse field sobriety tests and hand-held breathalyzers.
Field sobriety tests are subjective. If you are arrested and find yourself in court, you do not want the officer to tell his opinion of how drunk you may have been. Similarly, road-side breathalyzers are known to be inaccurate and therefore it is acceptable to refuse one. By refusing these tests, your driver’s license will likely be suspended, but a suspension is better than a conviction for driving under the influence.
Submit to a chemical test at the police station.
After refusing the field tests you will likely be taken into custody. At the station you will be required to take either a blood or breathalyzer test. Of the two, the breathalyzer is less reliable and may give you room to argue it’s results if your case goes to trial.
It’s important to note, if you refuse these tests your license will be automatically suspended.
Contact a top DUI lawyer near you.
Contact an experienced DUI attorney right away. In preparation for meeting with your attorney, take time to write down every detail from your arrest; from the time you saw the flashing lights to the time of your release. Your attorney can use this recollection to prepare a stronger DUI defense.