Few feelings are as unpleasant as seeing a police car’s flashing lights in your rearview mirror, especially if you’ve just had a drink or two with dinner or after meeting up with co-workers at a local pub.
While the ultimate defense against a DWI conviction is never to drink and drive, being pulled over after having a beer or glass of wine doesn’t mean you are automatically guilty.
Five things to remember if the police stop you
Two of the most significant elements in a DWI case are the officer’s actions and your demeanor after a traffic stop. Once you see those flashing lights, keep these things in mind:
- Pull over to the side of the road quickly and safely, turn off the car’s engine, remove any hat, hoodie or sunglasses and place your hands on the steering wheel so the officer can see them.
- Don’t argue with the officer or show anger over being stopped. Be polite and follow their instructions without offering any excuses or explanations.
- The Fifth Amendment protects you from incriminating yourself. Politely refuse to answer questions on whether you’ve been drinking, where you’ve been or who you were with.
- It’s almost always a bad idea to try to tell the officer you’ve “only” had one drink. They won’t believe you and will likely ask you to take breath and/or sobriety tests.
- If the officer says you failed the test, try to remain calm while being arrested and ask for a lawyer. Do not talk to anyone without an attorney present.
The importance of calling a lawyer first
All communications with your attorney are protected under the law. You should always call a lawyer first as police cannot listen in on those conversations. However, if you contact anyone else, assume that police can and will monitor the discussion.
Experienced defense attorneys examine every piece of evidence against you, including if police had probable cause, whether breath test results are reliable or if officers acted improperly in gathering evidence. Those efforts can lead to dismissed charges or reduced penalties in many cases.