What you do and do not do at a traffic stop can make a positive difference during a potential DUI arrest. Remember what you say and do may have a strong impact in two ways:
- Whether you are actually arrested for DUI
- How much evidence police and prosecutors can use against you if there are formal charges ultimately filed against you.
What to Do During a DUI Traffic Stop:
Know that the police officers are closely watching you. If you are stopped on suspicion of driving drunk, remember that you are under being observed. The police officer is watching and listening to everything you say. What you say and do may be used to establish probable cause for an arrest. Police are searching for:
- Slurred speech.
- Bloodshot eyes.
- Affirmative answers to whether you were drinking.
- Fumbling around for your registration information or license.
You should always keep your speech clear and movements intentional. Always remember that you are under close police observation.
Request that the traffic stop be recorded
It is often beneficial to have the DUI stop, investigation and arrest recorded. Recorded evidence decreases the chance that the judge or jury has to decide based on witness testimony alone who they believe more: police or defendant. Besides, video and audio recordings may show botched police procedures like inaccurate field sobriety test instruction and administration. It could also show that you were not acting a way a drunk driver would.
Cooperate with police
Any time you are aggressive and/or rude with police, you increase your risk of getting arrested. Thus, be polite and always cooperate.
Agree to the chemical test request
In California, it is the law that you undergo a blood or breath test after a DUI. You can refuse. However, you face harsh penalties like a suspended licenses if you do refuse.
What Not to Do During a DUI Traffic Stop
Do not take field sobriety tests
FSTs are different from a chemical test. You are not legally required to agree to these tests. So you will not face any harsh consequences.
You do not have to answer certain questions if you choose
After you are stopped, an officer will typically ask you about how much you had to drink. If you answer these questions, you may be giving police more evidence against you. You can politely decline to answer. After all, you do have the right to remain silent with respect to questions that may be used to elicit responses that can ultimately incriminate you.
You do not have to take a portable breath test
In some situations, an officer may ask you to take a roadside breath test via a portable breath testing device. This device is called the PAS test in California. You do not have to agree to take this test if you choose not to. Instead, you can politely decline and tell the officer you’d rather submit to the required breath or blood test without providing a sample to the handheld PAS test. Chemical breath tests are typically conducted at the police station while blood draws can be done at the station or local hospital.
Do not let police search you
If the police arrest you, you may have no choice but to submit to a search. Otherwise, you do not have to agree to let police search you or your belongings during a traffic stop prior to an arrest.
You should also remember that every case is different. The decisions that are right for you in your DUI case may not be the right decision in someone else’s DUI case. However, every DUI traffic stop has many things in common. That is why the Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin provides basic dos and don’ts with respect to driving under the influence investigations. We want to help you make the best informed choices before, during and after your DUI traffic stop and arrest.