If you’ve ever been pulled over and questioned by a police officer, you’ve probably wondered about the best way to handle the situation. For instance, do you have to discuss where you are going, or where you are coming from? Are you forced to comply with field sobriety tests?
How you handle a traffic stop can be crucial during a DUI case. Even if you’ve only had a drink or two and are confident that you are below the BAC limit, giving out information to police officers can create probable cause to suspect you of driving under the influence. These are a few guidelines to help you navigate this situation and improve your chances at defending yourself.
Getting pulled over
Police officers can only pull a driver over with probable cause. However, once they pull you over, they may start questioning you, which in turn, may lead them to request a sobriety test. Legitimate reasons for a stop may include traffic violations, speeding, or driving erratically.
You can also be pulled over for problems associated with your vehicle. To minimize your chances for stoppages, periodically make sure that all your lights and signals are working, your tags and license plate are updated and visible and that you take care of any damage to your car’s body.
When you see the flashing lights, pull over at the first safe opportunity, pulling off to the right whenever possible. If you are driving at night, turn on your pilot light. In any case, sit still and have your hands visible on the steering wheel to put the officer at ease.
Besides providing your license, registration and proof of insurance, you are not required to give an officer any information during a stoppage. Some people may get nervous with an officer present and may try to alleviate their nervous energy by making chit-chat. This is a mistake.
You should always be polite, but you don’t have to discuss where you have been, where you are going or whether you have had anything to drink. If an officer asks you anything about these topics you may say that you don’t wish to discuss your evening or deflect in another natural way that doesn’t sound too defensive. The most important thing is that you don’t give an officer any additional reasons to suspect you might be under the influence.
Though many people refuse sobriety tests in Florida, our state is an implied consent state.This means that when you apply for a driver’s license you automatically consent to the breathalyzer test.
Refusing to blow, in most cases, will not help your situation. Refusing to comply with a request from an officer will usually automatically result in suspension of your license for at least one year.
Blowing over the limit
If your test result does come back over the limit, or even if you blow under but the officer feels that you are impaired, you may be facing a DUI charge. However, this doesn’t mean the case is over. Officer misconduct, pulling you over without reason, test inaccuracy and test administration without reasonable suspicion are all ways to potentially defend yourself.
Handling yourself responsibly while being pulled over will give an experienced DUI attorney the best chance at reducing or dismissing your charges.