Being stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence can be a nerve-wracking event, even if you have only had one drink. Knowing how to behave under such circumstances is essential in these situations, as is understanding your rights. As an experienced DUI attorney, these are the things that I strongly recommend you do for your protection if you are pulled over for a DUI check.
If You Are Pulled Over For DUI…
The following are key steps to remember in any situation when you have been pulled over on suspicion of DUI.
The police officer that has pulled you over is just doing their job. Speak with them politely and respectfully – officers look for poor and rude behavior as signs of intoxication. Your politeness will be noted both during the stop and later as a defendant if prosecuted. Additionally, prosecutors are also less inclined to negotiate with defendants who were rude and argumentative.
Provide Your License and Vehicle Information to the Police Officer
In the State of Washington when pulled over for a DUI stop, officers will ask for your Vehicle Information (license, registration, proof of insurance). In a calm, polite manner provide each of these items to the officer. Officers will always ask for this information, so have it ready before they approach your car.
Answer “Yes” If You Have Been Drinking
No matter what, it is not advised to lie when an officer asks if you have been drinking. Inform the officer that you have had something to drink if you’ve been drinking. Keep in mind that it is also VERY IMPORTANT that you do not answer how much you have had to drink unless you indeed have had only one drink. Once you have reached this point you will either be asked:
How much have you had to drink? Or
They will ask you to step out of the car for a sobriety test
If you are asked by the officer how much you have had to drink, decline to answer and politely inform the officer that you would like to speak with an attorney before answering questions. The officer will most likely tell you you’re not under arrest so you don’t have the right to consult with an attorney. While this is true, make sure you say you would prefer to speak with an attorney before answering any questions.
Ask to Speak to an Attorney
Never forget that you have the right to ask for an attorney at any time. Always remain calm, respectful and polite but understand that it is rare that anyone talks their way out of a DUI. With this in mind, refrain from offering any answers that might make your defense more difficult. Ask for an attorney that can assist you in understanding what you should and should not tell an officer.
Before Answering any Questions
The office will begin probing you with questions. Often these questions will be about where you were that night, where you were going and how much that you have drunk. These are questions that are designed to determine if the officer wishes to give you a Breath Test or Field Sobriety Test. You should decline to answer and inform the officer that you would like to speak with an attorney before answering questions.
If the officer informs you that you are not under arrest and do not have the right to consult with an attorney, be firm and polite and say that you would prefer to speak with your attorney.
Before Taking any Sobriety Tests
If an officer informs you that they would like to perform a field sobriety test, Request to speak with an attorney before any tests are conducted. This test is designed to establish suspicion of DUI and it is voluntary. Yet it is widely viewed that these tests are designed to be failed. Often factors like fear, test site location and physical limitations are not considered when these tests are conducted. For these reasons, test takers can fail these tests while entirely sober.
Currently under case law, “refusing” or “declining” to take this test can be used against you in the same way as “refusal” of breath testing. Due to this, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you do not “refuse” or “decline” taking any tests. Be polite, firm, and request that you speak with an attorney.
If You’re Arrested
If the officer sees a reason to arrest you for driving under the influence, immediately ask for an attorney. Until you speak with your attorney, refrain from speaking any more than absolutely necessary. You’re attorney will then advise you on what questions you can answer and whether or not to take any tests.
Before Taking a Breath Test at the Police Station
If they decide to bring you into the police station, they will likely inform you that they would like you to take a breath test. It is in your right to speak to an attorney before you take this test. Again do not “refuse” or “decline” – ask for an attorney.
Once you have a DUI attorney present, you can then be advised on what questions you should answer as well as what tests that you should or should not take.
If you are in the Seattle area and have been arrested for a DUI, the presence of an experienced DUI attorney at your side is very important to help you answer any and all questions that you may have. If you are in need of a pressure free, totally confidential consultation about your case, please contact attorney Matthew Leyba at 206.504.3131.