DUI: 5 Steps for Your Best Defense
You can hope your tail light went out in the last few minutes, and the officer behind you just wants to look out for your safety, but the flashing red and blue lights in your rearview mirror are never a welcome sight. Whether you’ve had a drink or not, if an officer pulls you over for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), you have legal rights and you should use them to protect yourself.
DUI: 1 of 5 Steps for Your Best Defense
The very first thing you should do when those red lights flash is pull over in a safe location. Don’t stop in the middle of the road; turn off into a parking lot, or if necessary, pull well onto the shoulder of the road so you can prevent traffic hold ups and keep you and the officer safe should you have to exit the vehicle.
DUI: 2 of 5 Steps for Your Best Defense
Stay in your car and remain calm. Turn off your radio. Roll down your window. Sit still. If it is dark, turn on your interior light. Then keep both hands on the steering wheel. These things sound simple and a little silly. I mean, doesn’t the officer want your license and registration? Proof of insurance?
Yes. The responding officer is going to ask you for these things, but to reach under the passenger seat or into the glove box for these items as the officer approaches may cause unnecessary concern for the officer, perhaps thinking that you are reaching for a weapon.
Instead, allow the officer to reach your car and ask for your documents. If law enforcement asks you to step out of your vehicle, do so. Otherwise, you may be in danger of appearing to resist arrest or flee.
DUI: 3 of 5 Steps for Your Best Defense
As you present the requested documents to the officer, remember that suggesting a great deal on Groupon for a wine tasting is not necessarily your best course of action. In fact, it’s not even necessary for you to answer questions, if you choose. Think of all the times you’ve heard the phrase, “You have the right to remain silent.“
This is exactly the case here. You may simply remain silent until you feel comfortable responding, perhaps after you have legal counsel present. So, keep quiet and only give answers to questions which you are 100% certain cannot be used against you in court. And as always, be polite. Acting defensive or confrontational will not help you.
DUI: 4 of 5 Steps for Your Best Defense
Politely decline any test requested by the officer. This means you should not take a field-sobriety test, nor should you take any chemical tests (blood, urine, or breath). This one may seem counter-intuitive, as if you are defying the law. However, if you find yourself in this situation, you are in a lose-lose position, and declining the test is your best bet.
If you submit, these tests can have potential inaccurate results due to improper calibration or administration or certain medications you take. The standardized field sobriety test (SFST) is difficult for anyone as it focuses on balance and coordination. And failing any test is going to find you in the back of the patrol car heading to jail.
On the other hand, if you decline, you will likely be cuffed and taken in for additional questioning and tests anyways. After all, the officer likely pulled you over for questionable driving behavior. If you have slurred speech, bloodshot eyes or smell of alcohol, it’s further evidence against you. It’s true that if you refuse, you will more likely appear to be guilty if tried in court, termed “consciousness of guilt.” But either way, you will likely be arrested and potentially charged with a DUI and your license may be suspended.
DUI: 5 of 5 Steps for Your Best Defense
Hire Legal Counsel.
If you have been arrested for or charged with driving under the influence, don’t take on your defense alone. It is highly likely that there are nuances in the law of which you are unaware but would help your defense, and you have a legal right to your best defense.
To help your legal counsel, write a personal private record of your arrest as soon as possible. This can make a huge difference in your defense. As time passes you may forget small details that could help your case. The arresting officer must follow certain protocol. If any part of the protocol is omitted, this can be to your benefit, so write down every detail you can remember as soon as you can.
DUI: The Most Crucial Step for Your Best Defense
Visit the Contact Page of Bartlett Law Offices, and be assured from your first contact that we will listen to your side of the story and defend you to the utmost extent of the law. If you prefer to call, we’re available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m at 727-712-7502.
We believe that before you are in need of a second chance, you need the best defense for your first chance! Bartlett Law Offices has the experience you need and can trust to provide you with a professional, ethical and knowledgeable defense.
Please visit our dedicated webpage for more information about DUIs and the criminal penalties you may incur with such a conviction.