You have been pulled over by the police, what to do now?
We have all been there before. You were in a rush to get to where you were going or maybe you think you have had too much to drink while you were driving. Once you are pulled over and interacting with law enforcement, the blood pressure is subject to rise and the anxiety (along with any drugs or alcohol you may have in your system) are liable to affect your judgment. Here are a few important things to remember:
Do not add stress and uncertainty to the encounter. Law enforcement officers have very stressful jobs filled with a lot of uncertainty. Do not add to that stress and uncertainty. Once you are pulled over, lower your windows on both sides (in case the officer chooses to approach from the passenger side). Turn the radio completely off. Avoid sudden movements inside of your vehicle and be sure to leave your hands where they are clearly visible. Stay in your vehicle and await the officer’s instructions. Quickly and politely produce documents when requested. Above all, avoid arguments and hostility. Make it easy on the officer and you may get out of there with a warning, but if you don’t…
Do not argue with the officer about your case. By and large, law enforcement has two functions at roadside, to gather evidence and to write a traffic citation (or to make an arrest, depending on the circumstances). If they have already decided to issue you a citation or arrest you, it is likely that nothing that you say or do is going to convince them to do something different.
If you are placed under arrest, close your mouth and keep it closed. This is so simple, but so essential for an effective defense. You have the right to remain silent in the face of a governmental accusation. Do not try to advocate your position with the officer, especially if you are accused of something more serious than a traffic citation. You can be sure that everything that you say and do will be used against you during any court proceedings that may come later. This will present itself by way of the officer’s own testimony against you, or, if a DUI investigation is underway, a video detailing your behavior and interactions with law enforcement will exist. Be situationally aware and do not do anything that you do not want to have replayed later to a jury. Make it easier for me to get you a good result by staying quiet.
There is a difference between field sobriety exercises and tests of your blood breath and / or urine. The law requires a person to submit to a lawful test of their blood, breath and / or urine to detect the presence of alcohol or illegal drugs. Failure to submit to these tests (known as implied consent) may result in a license suspension or, in instances where a person has previously refused, a 1st degree misdemeanor charge (punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine). However, there is no lawful requirement for a person to agree to perform field sobriety exercises. You can simply say to the officer that you do not wish to perform field sobriety exercises. The officer will have to decide whether to arrest you based on his or her observations, but if you are feeling that you would probably perform poorly on them, it is worth considering not giving incriminatory evidence against yourself and simply opting out. Remember, it is all probably being recorded.
There are cameras in the back of the squad car. If you are arrested and in the back of the squad car, please do not berate the officer, call him or her names, or otherwise act like a drunken or stoned idiot. Again, this will increase the likelihood of a good defense, and possibly assist me in dealing with the prosecution when I tell them what a good person you are and how well behaved you were as proof of that. Again, make it easier for me.