As a DUI lawyer, I am asked many questions about what to do or not do when pulled over. Even clients who have received a DUI in the past often want to know if there was a better way to handle their arrest. Understandably, my clients want to avoid an arrest and subsequent charges whenever possible. However, while few people ever intend to drive drunk, it is incredibly common to drive after consuming some alcohol, and sometimes that one drink may be one drink too many. If you ever find yourself in this situation, the most important thing to do is remain calm. Whenever you are interacting with law enforcement, you need to remember that they are on alert and do not know what situation they are walking into. If you act aggressively, it may escalate the situation to your detriment. With that in mind, there are certain things you should avoid doing after being pulled over.
Avoid telling an officer:
#1 – Yes, I was drinking and driving.
Even if you had something to drink, do not admit fault and whatever you do, do not go into detail. For example, you do not want to say that you had three beers with dinner.
#2 – You can search my car.
As a DUI lawyer, I warn clients not to allow a search of their vehicle. Very often, a search can lead to additional charges. An officer should have to request to search your car or look in your trunk. Politely tell them no so they are forced to get a warrant. In order to get one, they will have to demonstrate cause to search your vehicle, and you will have time to call an attorney. Keep in mind, however, that if something is in plain sight to an officer, a search may be appropriate without your consent.
#3 – I don’t want to remain silent.
Exercise your right to remain silent. This is one of your best defense weapons. Most people do not understand how easy it is to turn simple statements into evidence that can be used against you. Everything you say can and will be used by the prosecution if they can find a way to make it seem like a statement of guilt. Keep in mind every situation is fact-specific but, your best option is to not speak at all unless it is to provide the officer with very basic information and even then you can limit your speech. For example, if you are asked to produce your ID and insurance information, you can hand it over without speaking and still comply with their request. Remember, the officer is watching how you do everything in addition to what you might be saying.
#4 – I don’t need a lawyer.
You have the legal right to obtain counsel and should certainly consider doing so. Hiring a DUI lawyer gives you the best chance of success in court. Additionally, an attorney can usually help arrange for bail so you can get out of jail. Whatever you do, avoid answering any questions without your lawyer in the room.
If you have been pulled over and arrested for a DUI, you need help and quickly. Call my office to receive the assistance you need right away.