Seeing the flashing lights of a police car in your rearview mirror can be one of the most unsettling experiences for a motorist, regardless of whether they have been drinking.
But if you consumed alcohol before driving, the way you interact with police after being pulled over is vital to your future.
Six things to remember if police stop you
The best way to avoid a DUI or DWAI charge is never to drink or consume cannabis products before getting behind the wheel. But if it happens, remember these things:
- Pull to the side of the road quickly and safely, turn off the engine, remove hats, hoods and sunglasses and put your hands on the wheel so officers can see them.
- Be polite to the officer and avoid showing anger or resentment for being stopped. Uncooperative or unruly behavior can result in additional charges.
- Yes, be polite, but that doesn’t mean you have to answer their questions. The Fifth Amendment gives you the right not to incriminate yourself.
- Don’t attempt to explain to officers that you’ve only had one beer or offer any unnecessary information. They won’t believe you anyway.
- You can refuse to submit to roadside maneuvers or a portable breath test. However, you must take a blood test at the station or in a hospital to avoid losing your license for at least one year.
- Finally, try to stay calm if the police arrest you for DUI or DWAI. Document as much of the event as possible to help with your defense.
It’s advisable to make a lawyer your first call
Attorney-client relationships are protected under the law. That’s why it’s best to use your initial phone call to contact an experienced DUI defense lawyer. Police can’t listen in on these conversations, but they can and will likely monitor discussions if you call anyone else.
A knowledgeable lawyer will challenge the legality of the traffic stop, work to suppress or disprove evidence, including the results of a blood test, and defend your driving privileges. Many times, this results in dismissed charges or reduced penalties.