Drinking and driving causes thousands of fatal crashes every year in the United States, accounting for more than a quarter of all fatal crashes annually. It’s no wonder that states take driving under the influence (known as DUIs) seriously with penalties for those who get behind the wheel after drinking too much. If you have been drinking and you do get pulled over, it’s important to understand what your rights are and what your legal response can be with an officer. Here’s your top questions about getting pulled over for a DUI.
What Should You Do When Police Lights Go on Behind You?
As soon as you realize an officer is trying to pull you over, do so in a calm manner. Choose a place nearby that provides ample room for both vehicles and is safe. You can already conclude that the officer has noticed something irregular in your driving to pull you over, but their observations will continue in how you pull over. If you show erratic driving ability or choose an obviously unsafe location to stop, they can use this in their report to convey that you were drunk.
What Information Are You Legally Required to Provide?
An officer will first request your name, driver’s license, insurance information and car registration. You must provide these to them regardless of if you think you have been pulled over for no reason. Any questions they ask you after that, you are not legally obligated to answer. Some of these questions can be incriminating (like “Have you been drinking tonight?”), and you can remain silent. Since questions and answers about drinking can be so vague, they can hurt your case more than help. You are allowed to drink up to a certain amount and drive, so if you do answer, make sure to specify the details.
Do You Have to Take a Breath Test?
Contrary to what Hollywood likes to show you in movies, you actually aren’t obligated to do any field tests outside of your car. This includes breath or other chemical tests, as well as balance tests. Breath tests frequently report wrong results and balance tests are hard to pass even when completely sober. If you refuse, you may get arrested and have your license suspended, but you can then take a much more accurate test at the station.
You are always free to call your lawyer during an interaction with police. Many lawyers provide free consultations to those convicted of DUIs. Do not hesitate to set up a consultation with a criminal justice lawyer, like the ones at May Law, LLP, as soon as possible. The sooner that you begin the process, the more time you will have to build a solid case.