Having practiced criminal defense for close to 30 years I have been asked numerous times what should I do if stopped for a DWI? I’ve never been one to give people advice on how to thwart the law, however, over time I have come to realize folks need this advice because we all have rights afforded to us by the constitution and we should all understand what those rights are and how they come into play in our daily lives and interaction with law enforcement.
First, let me say I do not condone drinking and driving, not because it is illegal per se but because on a professional level I have seen the grief caused when a police officer stops a person and smells alcohol on their breath. The best way to avoid a DUI is to refrain from drinking and then driving.
With that being said, here are 5 Tips to follow when being investigated for a DUI:
1. Be Courteous. Cops deal with rude people all day long and always appreciate it when a suspect is respectful and courteous.
2. Tell the officer right up front you do not want to participate in any field sobriety tests. These tests are unreliable and should not be taken. Let the officer know if he wants to place you under arrest you will not resist, however if not you are requesting you be able to proceed on your way.
3. If asked about drinking, respond you will provide your drivers license if requested but you are invoking your Constitutional Right to remain silent as to any questions concerning alleged criminal activity.
4. Get out of the car if requested. Officers are allowed to demand a driver exit his vehicle for officer safety reasons. Do so, but politely decline any field sobriety tests or questions pertaining to drinking.
5. If arrested you must submit to a chemical test or risk losing your license for 1 year. I recommend the breath test because it is the easiest to challenge. Advise the officer of any GERD or recent dental work.
I want to reiterate, drinking and then driving, even if you are below the legal limit, is a risky proposition because it subjects you to being detains and possibly being arrested. If you are arrested for DUI, Upon release contact a lawyer immediately so that important rights will not be lost.