A friend told me the other day that he was afraid to even “sniff a cork” before getting behind the wheel of his car.
He was referring to the increasing frequency of DUI checks by police. He was exaggerating of course but it is true that your chances of being stopped by police on suspicion of driving under the influence are increasing every day.
The only way to be absolutely sure that you will never be charged with DUI is to never drive after having had even one drink.
But if you are like most people it may happen that you decide to drive after drinking a very moderate amount of alcohol. If you do, and you are stopped by police, there are some measures you can take to minimize the risk of being charged and convicted of drunk driving.
Your Goal … Avoid Being Asked to Take a BAC Test
To get a Driving Under the Influence conviction the police need to have you take a blood alcohol content test. But in all states they must first have “reasonable suspicion” that you are intoxicated and have arrested you for DUI and/or DWI before they can ask you take a BAC test.
You have to do all that you can to avoid being arrested. And remember, refusing to take the BAC test after your arrest is not a reasonable option. In most states penalties for refusal are just as onerous as the penalties for DUI conviction.
Don’t Alarm The Officers
Now the police have found an excuse to pull you over. They have plenty of latitude in how far they will take things so don’t start off by causing alarm or suspicion.
In America a traffic stop can be a dangerous business for police. Don’t reach for the glove box to get your documents the moment you are stopped. Roll the window down and then stay upright with your hands on the wheel until the officer gets to your window. Wait until asked to reach for your documents. Be polite.
Be Prepared to Be Stopped
Have your vehicle documents organized and easily accessible. Make sure your current documents are separated from old documents. Keep them in a wallet and store the wallet in an easily accessible place. If you fumble about trying to find your papers this could be seen by police as a sign of impairment.
Be Courteous But Make No Admissions
The police officer will likely ask you if you have consumed any alcohol. If you admit to having had even one drink he or she now has all the excuse needed to administer a DUI blood alcohol test. Simply return the question with one of your own. You might ask why he or she is asking you this question or if the officer would like to see your documents. Be polite.
Remember, you are not required to give any information beyond what is shown on your drivers license. Do not be drawn into a conversation about where you have been or what you’ve been doing.
Refuse to Perform Field Sobriety Tests or Breath Tests
If the police officer asks you to get out of the car you must do so but you do not have to perform any “sobriety” tests such as walking on a line or touching your nose with both hands. If you fail one of these tests, and you surely will since the police officer is the judge, then you will be arrested and asked to take a chemical blood alcohol test.
You should also refuse to take a roadside breath test. Like field sobriety tests, they are designed to help the officer establish (through a failure) probable cause for an arrest.
If you have not admitted to drinking, have refused to take roadside sobriety or breath tests and the police then ask you to take a BAC test they will be acting unlawfully. You must be lawfully arrested before they can ask you to take a BAC test, and they are ordinarily conducted at the police station. If this is the case then a good DUI lawyer has a powerful tool that he or she can use in your defence.
Aggression on your part, the seemingly innocent questions police may ask and physical roadside “sobriety” tests can all give the police officer the excuse needed to arrest you and perform a BAC test. If you are stopped and charged with drunk driving you must contact a specialist DUI attorney right away.
Get DUI test advice in a nutshell – a summary of DUI tests and your rights.