Pulled Over and You’ve Been Drinking–What Now?
If you’ve been drinking and the police pull you over, you can choose to make things better or worse for yourself. First of all, it is legal for people (21 years and older) to consume alcohol and drive so long as they’re not intoxicated. In other words, you’re not guilty of DWI merely because you have had something to drink and you drive. Always remember, the question is whether you were intoxicated and it’s the prosecution’s job to prove that. Don’t make their job easier and your life harder by handing over evidence.
With that in mind, the following are the do’s and don’ts of a DWI stop:
- If you see that an officer wants you to pull over, then do so immediately and safely. Slow down immediately and pull over to the first available spot. Be sure your seatbelt is on, roll down your window and turn the engine off. Be ready with your license and insurance. Every time you drive your car you should have your license and insurance readily available. If you are suspected of DWI and you fumble around while looking for these items, then the officer will count that as evidence against you.
- Less is more. Don’t try to talk your way out of a DWI. If, and only if, the officer asks you a question should you say anything. At this point, the officer is making observations such as the appearance of your eyes, your speech, and odor of your breath. By talking, you give the officer and opportunity to judge your speech and any odor of alcohol on your breath. Also, you are not required to answer the officer’s questions. Some common DWI investigation questions include: “Where have you been tonight?” “How much have you had to drink?” Depending on your circumstances, answering these questions could hurt you. Always remember, you have the option to politely refuse to answer any questions. The officer may arrest you anyway, at least you didn’t give the prosecution evidence to use against you later.
- Smile, you’re on camera! Always remember that you’re on camera from the moment the police spot your car. Every move you make and everything you say will be recorded and used as evidence against you. In light of this, be aware of your movements and how you appear. If the officer asks you to exit the car, then get out quickly without leaning on the door and stand up with good posture. Avoid leaning on the car, because this will be used as evidence of intoxication.
- Roadside Tests. You don’t have to take field sobriety tests (a.k.a. roadside tests). You are free to politely refuse to submit to the tests. After you exit the vehicle, the officer will want to “look at your eyes.” What the officer is attempting to do is called the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN) and it is a field sobriety test that will be used against you at trial. If you submit to the test, then you will be limited in your ability to later challenge the results because your eyes will be visible to only the officer. Unlike the other tests, the camera will not capture your performance on the test. There are other tests that the officer will ask you to do. Again, you may politely refuse to perform them and immediately ask for your attorney.
- Blood and Breath Tests. Just like roadside tests, breath and blood tests will be used against you. Always remember that blood or breath results will be used against you. If you refuse to submit to a test, the police may obtain a warrant for your blood. Officers routinely obtain blood warrants, but warrants are not bullet proof. Let the police obtain a search warrant if they wish and you may be able to bring legal challenges against it later.
If you’ve been arrested for DWI, contact the Hardy Law Group today. Our years of experience prosecuting and defending DWIs give you the advantage in fighting a DWI charge. We understand the strategies prosecutors use and know how to exploit weaknesses in DWI investigation and prosecution. Results matter. Even in the face of strong evidence, we know how to fight to maximize results and minimize the impact of a DWI charge. Call (817) 857-4111 to schedule a free consultation now.