You’re driving down the highway or a city street and all of a sudden you see Red and Blue flashing lights behind you. You may have had a few too many drinks and now you’re worried about going to jail. What can you do to help yourself now?
1. Pull Over Immediately to a Safe Area
The first thing that you want to do is to pull over, obviously. If you take too long or continue to drive, you could be looking at an evading arrest charge and nobody wants that. Be sure to use your blinker.
2. Be Courteous, But Decline to Answer Any “Trick Questions”
One of the common pitfalls in a DWI case is answering “trick questions.” An example of this is “Do you know how fast you were driving back there?” or “How much have you had to drink tonight?” The problem with these questions is basically no matter how you answer the questions, the officer has asked it in a way which assumes guilt on your part. An answer such as “I decline to answer” can be appropriate. Sometimes an officer will get frustrated with you and say things like “is that because you’re drunk?” Again, don’t answer. Just let the dash cam pick up on that for your defense attorney later. Also, even if you say that you have only had 1 or 2 drinks, this can be used against you. It is best not to say anything.
3. Do NOT Consent to a Search of Your Vehicle
This applies to any traffic stop. If a police officer is asking you if he can search his car, it is usually because he does not have enough to legally search your car to begin with. So why give him that chance? It doesn’t matter whether you have something in your car or not that you could get in trouble for, because it is best to be safe than sorry in these sorts of situations.
4. Be Aware of Your Circumstances
It is important to be aware of what is going on around you and take note. Remember what time of day it is, if it is windy outside or raining, or any other circumstances. The police officer will likely tell you that you have red glossy eyes, slurred speech, and smelled of alcohol. That is just the three magic phrases cops will use to get you out of your vehicle. If someone else is in the vehicle with you, it may not be a bad idea to record the police. It is not illegal and could probably be helpful to your case. The officer may give that person a little bit of trouble, but it is absolutely allowed.
5. Refuse the HGN
The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (“HGN”) Test is one of the Three commonly used tests by police officers to determine whether someone is intoxicated or not. You can read about that more here. This test is voluntary and you can refuse to perform it. Again, the police officer may give you some trouble, but you are not required by law to perform it.