How Do I Respond to Being Stopped for Drunk Driving?

You are driving home after drinks when all of a sudden the red and blue lights of a police cruiser come on behind you. What should you do? From the moment the lights come on you are being closely observed by the officer. You will be nervous but it is important to maintain your composure.

Pull over to the side of the road as soon as you safely can. Make sure to signal and do not just slam on the brakes. The officer will note the jerky or sudden movements and will testify that they are a sign of intoxication. Start looking for your driver’s license, registration and insurance. The officer is going to task them for you and will watch as you look for and retrieve them. If you cannot find them or if you have difficulty pulling your driver’s license out, then the officer will again note these as signs of intoxication. Often times the officer will interrupt your search by asking you questions. This is known as “divided attention” and the officer is testing your ability to answer the question appropriately and then go back to looking for your records.

If the officer asks you to perform field sobriety tests remember that you can politely refuse to take these tests and there will be no consequences on your driver’s license. This is different than refusing a breath or blood test which will result in the loss of your license. The officer will have a microphone on and anything you say is being recorded. Keep this in mind! If you have a physical ailment that might make the tests difficult then now is the time to make that known to the officer. Bringing it up later only looks like an excuse for why your performance was poor.

If you are arrested it is recommended that you stay silent. At this point nothing you say is going to get you out of trouble and will only make your case harder to defend. Be polite, but do not offer any information or answer any questions. Even if the officer leaves you alone in the police car remember that the vehicles are audio recorded and sometimes even video recorded. Statements made to yourself alone in the vehicle can find their way into the police reports and can be used against you.

Eventually the officer will ask you if you want to submit to a blood or breath test. Remember that if you refuse these tests you will lose your driver’s license for one year. When you are released from you jail you need to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. In most cases you only have seven days to take action before action is taken against your driving privileges.

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