There are plenty of reasons for a police interaction when they pull you over. And all of them would be legal, as long as it constitutes probable cause. You are likely to be pulled over for a tail or plate light that is out, looking at your phone and of course speeding or driving erratically. Exhibiting signs that you are not fit to drive are an easy way to get pulled over. But, what should you do when this happens?
What Should You Do During A Police Interaction?
In the event you do get pulled over, you’ll want to know your rights and what you should or shouldn’t do during police interaction. Whether you have been drinking or not, you’ll want to keep these suggestions in mind:
When you are pulling over, do so on the right side of the road and as quickly as possible. Then, turn on the cabin light and keep both hands on the steering wheel. This will help the officer feel comfortable approaching the vehicle and can reduce the tension in the situation.
Say as little as possible. You will want to be friendly and maybe even be a little talkative. This happens when anxiety kicks in. Be nice and admit nothing. You must provide proof of insurance, registration and your license. However, that is all the police can make you do or say during a stop. Remember that anything you say during a police interaction may come up later and it could end up hurting you. Sometimes it can even trigger investigation or search. Your charges become based on anything that takes place during your DUI stop as well as your driving. The less you say, the harder it is for them to argue their case. If they ask about whether or not you’ve been drinking, you can return with a question about the items you are required to provide or the reason for the stop.
If the officer asks you to, you must exit the vehicle. You may decline field sobriety tests, but it is recommended that you do so politely. These tests tend to be justification for a chemical test, which is meant to determine your Blood Alcohol Content. In many cases, even sober drivers cannot pass roadside sobriety tests. Most states require that you submit to chemical testing if requested. Should you refuse, there could be consequences. These may include license suspension, fines, and criminal charges.
If you are sober, the officer’s camera may work to your advantage. Sometimes they will turn off their cameras during a police interaction. If they say, it is not on, ask them to turn it on. This will let them know that you nothing to hide and may help later. Through that footage, you would be able to prove your mannerisms and speech during the DUI stop. This would be better proof of your innocence in court.
The officer can only look in your vehicle from the outside. They may request to search your vehicle, but you do not have to allow it. The only way they are allowed to search your car is with reasonable suspicion or probable cause, which can be found during your police interaction. If they had either, they wouldn’t have asked for permission. Instead, they would place you under arrest and search the vehicle then.
You may have the option of two other tests, not just the breathalyzer. Sometimes, you can take a blood or urine test; you just have to ask. There has been evidence that breath results can be questionable.
What Should You Do If You Are Facing Charges?
You will need an attorney to represent you who has experience in these cases. Having someone with a deep understanding of these laws and their stipulations can be the difference between winning a case and losing it. They will know the questions to ask and the strategies to best maneuver your case. Retaining one as soon as possible is essential. The sooner they know the details of your case and can get started, the better. This is a great place to start!
The last thing you want is a conviction on your record. This will haunt you for the rest of your life and can have serious effects on how you are viewed, in addition to the sentence you’ll receive. The judge considers many factors while determining sentencing for a DUI conviction. An accident that results in an injury or death will result in felony charges. Refusal of a chemical test will mean license suspension, automatically; and fines, community service, programs, and classes. And if you have probation, that will be additional fees and time! These are things that the court will require you to complete. You can read more about it here.