Your biggest ally when being pulled over for suspected DUI is knowledge. Also, it’s important to understand that the system and rules police utilize when attempting to build a case are meant to confuse you into thinking you’ve done something wrong. If you find yourself in the driver seat suspected of being under the influence, there are a few things you should know about the process and your rights as a motorist.
When you roll down the window
It usually starts as a typical traffic infraction. The best thing to do when the officer walks up to your window is to roll it down, keep your hands visible, stay calm and polite, and hand over your license, insurance and registration. That’s all you’re required to do. Eventually, if they ask you to exit the vehicle, do so to obey a lawful order and keep things civil. The key here is to remain cooperative but say and do as little as possible.
If the question of drinking comes up
From this point forward, whether you’re in or out of your vehicle, don’t say anything. The officer may ask you to take a few tests to make sure you’re okay to drive. Simply shake your head no or say “no.” These tests are simply designed to build a case against you – and the officer knows it. So don’t believe whatever rationale he gives you for administering them or any punishment that may come about by not taking them – legally you have the right to refuse.
The tests they’ll ask you to take
Typically, the testing goes like this – eye test, walk and turn, one-leg stand, blowing into a PBT (preliminary breath test), then a breath test at the jail or in the back of an alcohol testing van. Refusal to blow into the PBT is a traffic infraction and the only penalty is a fine. Again, shake your head no – refuse. And don’t think that only taking a few tests is better than taking them all, refusing all tests is your best chance at defending yourself. Don’t let their tactics and warnings scare you into anything. You’re greatest advantage in a situation like this is being aware of your rights.
Ask if you’re free to leave
The only other time you should converse with the officer during the stop is to ask if you’re free to leave – it’s your right and obligation. Simply refusing to yield to their tests is not grounds for arrest. So, technically, if they have no other reason to hold you, you should be free to go.
The most important thing to remember if you find yourself in this situation is to remain silent and refuse all testing. Be polite, give them the minimal information, get out of the car if they ask, but remain silent and refuse. Their biggest tool in building a DUI case against you is you. So it’s important to know your rights and stand your ground. If you find yourself in this situation and require legal counsel, please contact your Wichita criminal defense lawyer, Jon McConnell. Jon’s extensive experience is your best defense against DUI.