If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve been pulled over for drinking and driving. You may face penalties now, but if you have the privilege of operating a vehicle in Pennsylvania, you should never put yourself and others in danger. The risk of a dangerous accident increases exponentially when you are under the influence.
Even if you made the wrong decision, you do still have legal rights. That’s why it’s well worth knowing what to do if you are pulled over after drinking. After all, police officers unfortunately encourage self-incrimination in situations where an individual should assert their legal rights to remain silent and obtain an attorney.
Perhaps even more unfortunate is the fact that many individuals gravitate toward strategies that they think might help them evade a DUI, but make things worse. Rest assured that there is no way to “beat” the breathalyzer on a chemical level if you have been drinking.
In fact, you are much more likely to trigger a false positive than a false negative.
With that said, many technical legal challenges can help you get breathalyzer evidence dropped from your prosecutor’s case.
The bottom line is that you should focus on what happens to your criminal case after you are arrested. Do not think that you will be able to evade arrest through one clever trick or another.
Your Step-by-Step Guide To a DUI Stop
So what do you do if you are pulled over after drinking?
- Obey the officer’s instructions. They may ask you to park your vehicle, turn off the ignition, lower music, crack the window so they can hear you, and refrain from making sudden movements.
- Declare any weapons on your person or in the vehicle. You are obligated to declare any dangerous weapons, even if you legally possess them. If you are worried about a criminal charge for possession of a weapon, you are better off refusing to answer questions than telling an outright lie.
- Provide your license, registration, and proof of insurance. If you need to retrieve them from the glove box or somewhere else, inform the officer first.
- If you are asked to step out of the vehicle and place your hands on the roof of the vehicle, you should comply.
- DO NOT consent to a search of your vehicle. Make them get a warrant. Every single time. If the police officer threatens or coerces you into letting them search your vehicle, you will have provided consent under duress, which means the search is illegal and evidence found during the search is inadmissible (will not be used against you).
- Know that you do not have to consent to a field sobriety test (FST). Regardless of what the police officer may say, it is not illegal to refuse the test itself. Many studies have found that FSTs are unreliable and are not based on scientific reason. A person may fail an FST because of a medical condition, not because they are intoxicated.
- Know that you do not need to answer any specific questions the officer asks you. This includes where you are going, where you’re coming from, or whether you’ve been drinking.
- If an officer demands that you answer questions, ask if you’re being detained or if you’re free to go. If you are not free to go, say you would prefer to exercise your right to remain silent and have an attorney advise you.
- Don’t lie or attempt to mislead the officer. You are more likely to provide evidence that can be used to establish your guilt than you are to “trick” them into letting you go. Instead, remain silent. Ask for a lawyer.
- Consenting to take the breathalyzer is almost always in your best interest because the penalties for refusal can be severe. Refusing a breathalyzer or blood test could lead to you losing your license for a year, even if you’re not guilty of DUI. If you are guilty of DUI, you may lose your license for two and a half years, depending on your BAC level at the time of testing. If you have a previous DUI conviction, you’ll lose your license for 18 months for refusing the test and another 18 months for the DUI.
Generally speaking, watch what you say, and try to conduct yourself like someone will be scrutinizing this moment during an eventual prosecution case because it’s likely they will.
What To Do if You Are Pulled Over After Drinking: Call a Lawyer
The best way to protect your rights and work toward reducing your charges is to hire a Pennsylvania DUI attorney.
Asserting your right to have a DUI lawyer advise you is the best way to prevent self-incrimination and to increase the odds that you will be able to weaken the prosecution’s case.
For more information and to schedule your free case consultation, call the Law Offices of Steven E. Kellis at (215) 543-6566.