What to do when the Police Pull You over for a Suspected DUI?

For some of you reading this article, it might be too late. But in case you are just browsing for educational purposes, please heed the following:

Pull over Safely

The moment the police officer has decided to pull you over and they put their emergency lights on, the police officer is noting how you are driving and that includes how you are responding and pulling over safely. This would include, actions such as slowing down, signaling, yielding to other traffic when moving over to the right side, and no sudden movements or erratic driving.

No Sudden Movements

Once you have pulled over, be sure to safely secure your vehicle, making sure you have it in park and with the e-brake on. Officers are trained to be cautious and will approach your car from the rear. Keep your hands on the wheel at 10 and 2 o’clock. Do not make any sudden movements.

Be cooperative and Polite

Truth be told, Police Officers have a tough job because they do not know who they are dealing with when they pull someone over. Given their state of heightened awareness and cautiousness, you do not want to escalate their concerns by being rude and hostile. Remember, they are humans too and if they feel they are being disrespected, your chances of being arrested increase and the chances of them writing a deeply incriminating report increase.

DO NOT answer any potentially incriminating questions.

Do provide your name, license, insurance, and registration to the police officer. (I recommend people to keep their insurance and registration in an envelope easily accessible to quickly and easily provide to the police officer).

If the Officer asks if you’ve been drinking or how much, simply say, “I’m sorry officer, with all due respect, I’ve been advised not to answer any questions.”

Refuse a field sobriety test.

Field sobriety tests are voluntary and you are under no obligation perform the field sobriety tests. The tests are completely subjective from the point of view of the officer and it is their way to collect evidence against you.   It’s not about you “passing” or proving it to the officer that you are ok to drive. It is VOLUNTARY! Refuse the field sobriety test.   The officer will try to convince you otherwise to perform the tests. Again, refuse the test, and let them know you are not answering any questions.

Refuse the portable breath test (offered roadside)

Portable breathalyzers have not been deemed to be reliable by the courts in Washington State and are not even admissible in trial. Again it is part of the field sobriety test and it is 100% voluntary. Refuse the test. The officer will try to convince you to do the portable breath test.

DO NOT ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS and ASK TO SPEAK TO AN ATTORNEY

If you are arrested for a DUI and transported back to the question, continue to NOT answer any questions and do no engage in any small talk conversation with the police officer. Remain silent.

Ask to speak to AN attorney. NOT “YOUR” Attorney, but any “attorney” and that includes Public Defenders, because Public Defenders are Real Attorneys and many of them are really good attorneys. You want to speak to an attorney before making a decision to submit to the Breath or Blood test at the station.

Subject to the advice you receive from speaking to AN attorney, Do submit to the Breath test at the station.

There are administrative consequences for refusing a breath test. Your privilege to drive could be suspended or revoked if you refuse to submit to the breath test. Again, speak to an Attorney before making the decision to submit or refuse the breath test. Everybody’s circumstances will be different.

If possible and practical, get your own blood test upon release

Upon your release, and if shortly after your breath test, if it is possible and practical, go to the nearest hospital to get your blood drawn and tested.

Upon release, make notes of everything you remember about the DUI incident (before, during and after)

–           where were you before the stop and what were you doing

–           how much did you have to drink

–           how long did it take out at roadside

–           what were the weather conditions, street conditions, lighting, traffic conditions

–           when were you pulled over and where

–           what did you say to the officer

–           were you advised that you were being videotaped?

Write down everything you could remember about the incident. Your notes will be for your eyes and your attorney’s eyes only.

Consult an Attorney