How to Respond If Pulled Over for Suspected DWI

Anytime those flashing red and blue lights show up in your rearview mirror, it can be unsettling. How you respond to being pulled over is ALWAYS important and can tilt the odds in your favor if you’re facing a citation. If you’ve been drinking, however, how you handle the interaction with the officer makes that much more of an impact on your chances of beating or lessening charges should you be placed under arrest.

“How much have you had to drink tonight?” Here are five tips to help you handle the all-important encounter:

  1. Be polite: Though your attitude probably won’t convince the officer to let you go with a warning, respect and politeness towards the officer will help a jury to sympathize with you if your case goes to trial.
  2. Most officers believe you are guilty until proven innocent. Once the officer asks you to exit the vehicle, the officer has already determined you are intoxicated and is gathering evidence against you as opposed to deciding whether to arrest you for DWI. Proceed through the encounter with this attitude, and consider this point when reading the rest of these tips.
  3. The less you say, the better: The law requires you to identify yourself, but you are not required to provide any more information to the officer. Even a question about where you’re headed does not legally require an answer. Don’t volunteer information. If you’ve been drinking, do not volunteer how much, what you had to drink, where you were drinking, the last time you had a drink, etc. Respectfully decline by stating you are not comfortable answering any questions without your lawyer present.
  4. Refuse to submit to field sobriety tests: If the officer believes you are intoxicated, he/she will ask to check your eyes and ask for you to submit to some balancing tests. These tests are not always good indicators of intoxication, as many people cannot pass them sober. Also, the officer cannot testify you failed a test if you do not take the test. Again, respectfully decline by stating you are not comfortable taking the tests without your lawyer present.
  5. Refuse to submit to any breath or blood tests: This typically occurs after the officer has placed you under arrest, but the officer can ask you to provide a breath sample at the scene using a portable breath test device. Respectfully decline by stating you are not comfortable taking the tests without your lawyer present. There are consequences regarding your driver’s license when you refuse to submit to a blood or breath test, but those consequences pale in comparison to the consequences of returning a sample with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit. Make the officer apply for a warrant to draw your blood, so more time passes and your blood alcohol can potentially begin to dissipate. Finally, remember that your attorney has more potential legal options if the officer must apply for a warrant to draw your blood.

The ultimate decision whether to arrest you for a DWI rests with the officer, but you determine how much evidence to provide the prosecutor who must prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. Following these five tips will minimize the potential damaging evidence used against you and will give your attorney the best chance to fight for you in court.

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