What to do if I am pulled over for driving while intoxicated?

The question asked most often is what to do if pulled over after drinking. There is no one correct answer. However, here are some helpful suggestions:

Stay calm. Often, the first sign an officer has that something is amiss is the driver’s nervous chattering. Above all, remain respectful and polite.

You have the right to remain silent. Most people pulled over for DUI tell the officer they “only had two drinks.”  You have the right to remain silent and not incriminate your self. You can politely, and repeatedly, ask to speak with an attorney.

Field Sobriety Tests. If the officer suspects you have been drinking, you will likely be asked to step out of your car and perform Field Sobriety Tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has approved only three tests: the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, the Walk and Turn and the One Leg Stand. You have the right to refuse these tests. Refusal will not result in a suspension of your license. Many people cannot “pass” these tests completely sober.

Alco-Sensor. Officers usually have a hand held Alco-Sensor that detects alcohol in your breath. This test may also be refused without license suspension.

Ask to park your car and walk or to call for a ride home. You never know, sometimes it works. If the officer refuses to allow you to do this, it is greater evidence that you are “in custody” which requires a reading of Miranda Rights.

State Administered Tests and Implied Consent. If you are arrested, you should be read the state’s Implied Consent Law which advises drivers of the state’s request for a test of their blood, breath or urine if an officer has probable cause to arrest them for driving under the influence. These Implied Consent Rights are important. You can refuse to submit to the officer’s request for a test. However, if you refuse, your driver’s license will likely be suspended for one (1) year or until your charges are dismissed, reduced or you are found not guilty. If you submit to the test and test over the legal limit, your license will still likely be suspended for one (1) year though you may have the right to early reinstatement and/or a limited driving permit.

Request an independent test. If you submit to the state’s test, you have the right to an independent test at your expense from qualified personnel of your own choosing. Most people miss this part of the Implied Consent Law when the officer is reading it to them. If you submit to a test, ask for your own independent test. Usually this will be a blood test from the closest hospital.

Once released from jail, call immediately for a free initial consultation to protect your legal rights. Time is important so do not wait. Let us be your first line of defense.