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What to Do When Stopped Under Suspicion of Drunk Driving
There are few things than can make a driver’s heart race like seeing the flashing lights of a police car in your rearview mirror. Adrenaline and nerves immediately kick in, making it difficult to think clearly. Knowing you’ve had a few drinks and fearing you’re over the limit can cloud your mind even more. So don’t be caught off guard. Know in advance what to do should you ever be stopped for a DUI. Being prepared could help minimize the chances of receiving a DUI conviction.
Remain Calm When Pulled Over After Drinking Alcohol
The first thing is to remain calm. Pull your car safely off the road and turn it off. Stay in the car. Take a deep breath and wait for the officer to come to your window. Don’t rummage through the center console or glove compartment for your insurance and registration until you are asked for them. Also, nerves have a tendency to make people either talk too much or get confrontational, neither of which will help your cause. Regardless of whether you feel you were stopped for no reason, be polite and cooperative. Getting confrontational or arguing will likely ensure a trip to jail. Everything you say and do will likely end up in a report, so stay on your best behavior.
Being cooperative does not mean engaging in unnecessary conversation. After asking for your driver’s license and registration, the officer may ask for some basic personal information, such as your name and date of birth. No harm in that. But when the questions become more probing, such as asking how much you have had to drink, do not answer. Politely explain that you have been advised not to answer these types of questions and are exercising your right not to do so. The officer will likely challenge you or get annoyed, but politely hold your ground. Anything you tell him or her can and most likely will be used against you. Also, you absolutely don’t want to lie. So it is best to say nothing.
If the police officer asks to search your car, politely decline, again saying you’ve been advised not to. If they ask, odds are they most likely don’t have legal grounds to search your car. If they order you to get out of the car, lock the doors behind you.
Most people don’t realize they are not required to perform a field sobriety test, for which the officer asks you to do a series of balance or coordination moves. The truth is that many stone-cold sober people wouldn’t pass those tests depending on age, physical limitations, and other factors. So again, you can politely refuse — something very few officers will inform drivers. No matter how well you think you do on a field sobriety test, the officer can state in the report that you did poorly. The field sobriety test also includes the follow-my-pen-with-your-eye test.
What Types of Breath Tests Do Officers Perform?
There are two types of breath tests: the portable breath test and a larger unit found at the police station or in a DUI van. You have the right to refuse the portable breath test, but not the Intoxilyzer 8000. Like many other states, Arizona has the implied consent law, which states that any person with a valid Arizona driver’s license automatically gives consent to perform blood, breath, or urine tests if suspected of DUI. Refusing can result in consequences nearly as severe as a DUI, such as an automatic one year driver’s license suspension. But you can invoke your right to obtain an independent chemical test of your blood or urine.
What Do You Do if Arrested for DUI?
If the officer arrests you for DUI, the first thing you should request is to call an attorney before submitting to any blood or chemical tests. That is your right. DUI cases are complex and need professional representation.
The same rules basically apply to DUI checkpoints, which are becoming a regular sight in larger cities. The officers manning the checkpoint might stop every car or select cars at random to check the sobriety of the drivers. Again, be polite and respectful but know your rights. The officers at the scene may try to gather evidence against you that will support their case. The less you give them, the less they have to work against you.