Seeing a police car’s flashing lights in the rearview mirror can send a chill down anyone’s spine, especially if you’ve been drinking. However, it’s in your best interests to remain as calm as possible and understand how to protect yourself if officers suspect you of drinking and driving.
How to respond to officers
The best defense, of course, is never to drink alcohol before getting behind the wheel. But if it happens and the police stop you, keep these things in mind:
- Pull over immediately and safely: Move to the side of the road, turn off the engine, remove any sunglasses, hoods or hats and put your hands on the steering wheel.
- Don’t argue: Any anger or resentment you show to the officer is not in your best interests and could result in additional charges. Be polite to the officer and follow their instructions.
- Don’t incriminate yourself: While you should respect the officers, you are under no obligation to answer their questions about whether you’ve been drinking. You have the right to remain silent.
- Don’t try to explain: Telling the officer you’ve only had one beer likely won’t help because they won’t believe you. You don’t have to answer their questions, but don’t volunteer unnecessary information.
- Stay calm if you are arrested: If police declare you failed field sobriety or breathalyzer tests, you will likely be charged. Keep a clear head and try to focus on documenting as much of the interaction as possible.
Why should your first call be to a lawyer?
Once in custody, keep your focus on protecting your future, and don’t talk to officers without legal representation. An experienced DUI defense attorney understands how to challenge evidence as well as determine whether police had probable cause to stop you in the first place.
Making a lawyer your first call is crucial as police cannot monitor conversations between attorneys and clients. However, law enforcement can and will listen in if you call anyone else. Keeping your cool can go a long way toward having charges dismissed or penalties reduced.