Ten tips when you’re pulled over for a DUI or other traffic offense.
When you see that spinning gumball, it’s time to pull over. Here are ten things to keep in mind.
- Pull over properly. Slow down and pull off the road, usually to the right, only when it is safe to do so. Use your turn signal to indicate your intent to the officer.
- Stay in the car. Turn off the engine and if it is dark out, turn on the interior light and keep your hands on the steering wheel. Stay in the car unless the officer asks you to get out. This procedure is the least likely to raise concerns for the police officer (Remember the police know nothing about you, and you know nothing about any descriptions they’ve been given about cars and occupants involved in recent crimes.)
- Don’t act suspicious. Avoid any actions that suggest that you are trying to hide, destroy or dispose of something. For example, if an officer sees you lean forward, the officer may think that you have hidden an object under the front seat. This may be enough for the officer to order you out of the car, pat you down and search under the front seat.
- Follow instructions. Listen to what the officer is saying and follow the officer’s instructions. The officer is in charge of the situation and it’s not over until the officer tells you that you can drive off.
- Choose your words carefully. Don’t volunteer information and don’t argue. Save your arguments for the courtroom and tell your passengers to follow the same rules.
- You’re being observed. Many police cars have equipment that visually records traffic stops. Even without the video, the police officer will be observing your behavior for the police report.
- How much did you drink? Police officers routinely ask this question, and if you are like most people who have been drinking, you may say, “just one or two with dinner”. Remember, you have the right to remain silent and you have the right to consult with an attorney.
- Think carefully about BAC testing. Think carefully about refusing to take a blood alcohol content (BAC) test. Every state has implied consent laws and they carry with them consequences for refusing a blood-alcohol test. That means that by acquiring a driver’s license you consent to BAC testing. Whether it is in your best interest to submit to a blood test depends on the specific facts of your case. It’s best to educate yourself about the law itself (see the link above) so that you are in the best position to make that judgment should the situation arise. Regardless, you still have your right to remain silent and your right to consult with an attorney prior to giving any statements: exercise those rights.
- Don’t volunteer. Roadside tests are voluntary. For example, in many states you do not have to consent to “walk and turn” or “one leg stand” tests.
- When in doubt … If for some reason you have reason to doubt that the person who pulled you over is a police officer, ask to talk to a supervisor or say that you will follow the police officer to the police Station.