What Should You Do When You’re Pulled Over For Drunk Driving?
Everybody makes mistakes. You may be an upstanding citizen who has never gotten in trouble with the law, but one day you are pulled over under suspicion of drunk driving. It is normal for you to feel frightened and intimidated by police, but you should know that you are not alone.
The next steps you take could have a serious impact on what charges you face and how your case might progress. At the Law Office of Philip L. Arnel, we frequently represent people in the Boston area who are accused of OUI, DUI, DWI or other drunk driving charges. These are some of the things you should keep in mind when you are pulled over by law enforcement.
1. Don’t Make Any Rash Decisions
When you notice police lights behind you, turn on your turn signal and slowly pull over on the right shoulder of the road. When the officer approaches your car, roll down your window, turn on your interior lights, turn off your vehicle and place your hands where the officer can clearly see them. When you are reaching for something, such as your license or registration, tell the officer what you are reaching for and move slowly so as to not cause any alarm. Remember: you are innocent until proven guilty, and you should not give any reason for an officer to believe otherwise.
2. Be Respectful
Whether you are guilty or innocent, you should always act as respectful as possible toward police. Follow their instructions very carefully, and politely assert your rights when necessary. Not only are police more likely to show lenience toward respectful citizens, but if you act poorly you may face a greater deal of scrutiny from law enforcement, which might hurt your case down the road.
3. Invoke Your Rights
The biggest right you have is the right to remain silent. If an officer asks if you have had any drinks, you do not have any obligation to answer them — simply invoke the fifth amendment. Keep in mind that you don’t want to lie to police, just do not answer the question at all if you feel like it will be used against you in your case.
Also keep in mind that if an officer asks to search your vehicle, you should always decline. Police are only allowed to search your vehicle under specific circumstances, and if they ask for your permission that typically means they do not have the authority to search without your consent.
4. Consider Taking The Breath Or Blood Sobriety Test
There are two types of sobriety tests police might try to make you take: field and chemical.
Field sobriety tests include those where the officer will subjectively try to measure your level of sobriety or intoxication. These might involve walking in a straight line while holding a finger to your nose, or reciting the alphabet backwards. These should always be declined, as they have little reliability when proving a case, and are not mandated by law. Should you happen to undergo a field sobriety test, however, the results could be contested by an experienced attorney in court.
Chemical sobriety tests are the Breathalyzer or blood tests that are much more accurate in determining your level of intoxication. In Massachusetts, you may decline these tests, but they come with their own penalties — you will lose your license for a minimum of six months, and your car may be impounded. Your refusal in taking these tests, however, cannot be used against you in court. So if you know these tests will have a very negative result, you might want to consider accepting the penalties of refusal. If you do take one of these tests, the results could also be disputed in court, but it is much harder to disprove chemical tests than field tests.
5. Hire A Proven Attorney As Soon As Possible
You have the right to a criminal defense attorney. The first chance you get, you should reach out to an attorney to safeguard your rights and make sure you take all the right steps, so you can minimize the potential penalties against you. The Law Office of Philip L. Arnel is committed to fighting for clients across Boston and all of Massachusetts against OUI, DUI and DWI charges. We are here to help. Call 781-708-4137 today, or reach out online to get started.