Published On: Wed, Jul 19th, 2023

What to Do If You Get Pulled Over for DUI

You should know better than get behind the wheel after drinking. Unfortunately, alcohol can cloud judgment, resulting in many people getting behind the wheel after drinking. 

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA, impaired driving is responsible for approximately 29 deaths every day, not to mention the injuries  and property destruction. Besides the cost to human life and property damage, getting behind the wheel after drinking can land you in a lot of trouble with the law once you are pulled over.

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Reasons for Being Pulled Over

All states have a 0.08% BAC limit for drivers over 21, except Utah, which has a 0.05% BAC limit. The federal government also limits the BAC level of commercial vehicles to 0.04. 

The law requires the police to have reasonable suspicion before pulling a driver over. So before they put their flashing lights on, they will look for signs of intoxication such as swerving in and out of lane, erratic acceleration and deceleration, wide turn, or when someone reports you.

If you see flashing lights behind you, you are supposed to move the farthest right and slow down. If the patrol car follows you there, you are probably being pulled over, so stop. Once you stop, switch off the car engine and rest your hands on the steering wheel. 

Avoid making a move unless directed; always communicate what you intend to do. For example, if your license is in a compartment and you are asked to provide it, tell the officer you will reach into a compartment for them. Any announced moves can be misinterpreted, which could result in unpleasant outcomes. 

Understand Your Rights and Use Them to Your Advantage

The officer may ask you to step out of your vehicle. Once you are out of your car, the police may require you to take a field sobriety test or a handheld breathalyzer test. Roadside tests can be unreliable, so you can choose to reject them politely. 

“You do not have to explain your decision to reject the test. If you must explain it, say your lawyer advised you against it. But you will need to take a chemical test at the police station if you are booked, or you could get into more problems for refusing the test,” says Attorney Ryan McPhie of Grand Canyon Law Group.

While at the scene of the police stop, they may ask to search your car. Do not give consent to a search. You may never know what they will find there, including empty bottles you forgot in the car, which can be used as evidence against you. The good thing is the police cannot use your rejection of a search against you in court. 

Avoid Speaking Without a Lawyer

When making an arrest, the police will recite your Miranda rights, part of which state your right to stay silent and a right to legal representation. Most people make the mistake of thinking that talking to the police will make things easier for them. 

Talking to the police only increases the chances of self-incrimination, so invoke your right to silence and stay silent until you have a lawyer with you. If you have a lawyer on your contact list, call them immediately, you could ask someone else to refer one to you. 

Even when you cannot afford a lawyer, the court should provide one. In light of the consequences of a DUI conviction, which can include jail time, costly fines, and losing driving privileges, navigating a DUI case without a lawyer is a bad idea.

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