It’s a common story. You were out at a bar drinking with friends, or at a wedding reception, and are now driving home. You may have had a few, but you think you know your limits and can make it home safely. Nevertheless, the lights flash in your rear view mirror. You see your life flash before your eyes, but is it the end of the road for you? Absolutely not.
Take a deep breath. Remember that you’re a good person. You wouldn’t be driving if you didn’t think you could make it to your destination responsibly. Maybe the police are pulling you over for a burnt out headlight, or a cracked windshield, but you have to be prepared for the worst possible scenario, and prepare for what to do if pulled over for a DUI and you have been drinking.
Stay Calm Whether or Not You Have Been Drinking
Follow all rules you would normally follow. Use your turn signal to pull over immediately. Follow all rules of the road when doing so. Pull safely into the shoulder where available and as soon as possible.
The most important thing to remember is that in these scenarios, police will likely not know whether you have been drinking or not. What is perceived as erratic driving could be attributed to a number of things. The bright lights of oncoming traffic, wind, maneuvering around potholes. It’s important to realize that unless law enforcement has proof of wrongdoing, they cannot convict you for DUI. A claim of “they were driving erratically” holds much less power than one of “they blew way above the legal limit in the breathalyzer.
Keep Your Rights in Mind
So remember what to do when pulled over. Know your rights. And remember that from the time the police begin following you, you are under close observation. And even before sirens turn on, they may be recording video of you. Try to drive naturally, and in the event they do pull you over act cordially.
One of the worst things you can do when pulled over by a law enforcement official is to act combatively. Remember that a police officer is just someone trying to do their job. And their job happens to be keeping the public safe. Their life is often at risk, so they tend take everything seriously.
Be Polite and Calm
Be as mature and polite as possible. This may be one of the most important moments of your life. Say “ma’am” or “sir” when addressing the officer. If you act erratically, talk rudely, or get offensive with an officer of the law, they will likely not have the patience to deal with insubordination. Your first priority should be not giving police any reason to see you as an adversary. Try to accommodate their requests as best as you can.
Yes you must follow many reasonable requests by police. But not all of them. While police do have the right to ask you to leave your vehicle, and you are compelled to comply with that request, you do not have any obligation to submit to field tests for sobriety. Often these tests measure balance capability, and may begin even before you have submitted to a test. For that reason, you should monitor your own behavior carefully.
When stepping out of the vehicle, take care not to rely heavily on grabbing the door or car for support. These actions will reflect poorly on your coordination, and thus the officer’s appraisal of your sobriety. It’s best if you can stand up of your own volition. However, if you doubt your ability, instead swing your legs out of the car and stand up, supporting yourself on the car seat to stand up if necessary.
When to Refuse Field Sobriety Tests
Of course, you have the right not to submit to a field sobriety test, and refusing so is in your best interest. Though these tests are typically impossible to pass under intoxication, less coordinated people may struggle with them as well. If you have any reason to doubt your coordination even completely sober, you may be at disadvantage during one of these tests.
Also, remember that under no means should you say anything that may incriminate yourself. Remember what to do if you are pulled over for a DUI and have been drinking. Even if you are arrested, you don’t have to say anything. You do have the right to remain silent. Save any statements for a lawyer who can help you defend yourself in court.
If you are facing prosecution after being pulled over for DUI, the DUI attorneys at Tyack Law Firm in Columbus, Ohio represent defendants charged with driving while under the influence. For legal support in this situation, request an appointment with one of our attorneys by calling us at (614) 221-1342 or filling out this online contact form.