What Do You Do When Pulled Over and Suspected of DWI?
By lawofficeo67676738, Feb 29 2016 09:37PM
*Refusing to submit to sobriety tests will almost certainly result in your arrest. Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test by law will result in a driver’s license suspension.
What do you do when pulled over and suspected of DWI? This is the number one question I’m asked socially when people find out I’m a criminal lawyer. Now, my first advice is that they don’t drive drunk! However, there is nothing illegal or criminal about having a few drinks and then driving home as long as you aren’t intoxicated. So, let’s use a hypothetical that you had a few glasses of wine with your dinner at one of our local steakhouses on a Friday night. As you’re driving home you see those red and blue flashing lights and your heart begins to race because you were speeding 10mph over the limit. I think most people would be surprised to know that most DWI arrests start with a minor traffic citation like speeding or not signaling for a turn. It’s important to know at all times: You’re being videotaped the entire time and that the officer WILL use everything you say or do against you in court. I’ve seen a lot of cases where the defendants think they can talk their way out of a DWI and they are wrong! So, what do you do?
1. Find a safe place to pull over your vehicle and use proper turn signals to do so.
2. Have your driver’s license and proof of insurance ready to hand the officer.
3. If the Officer smells alcohol he or she is going to ask you if you’ve had anything to drink tonight. Do not lie to them! Tell them you had a drink with dinner. Do not volunteer information like how many drinks you had and what kind of drinks they were, etc. At this point the officer is going to ask you to step out of the vehicle. The Officer is then going to tell you to put your feet together and your arms at your side as he shines a light on your forehead and raises a pen. He’s about to check your eyes for Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, which is the first sobriety test.
4. When the officer tries to begin a test on your eyes take a step back and politely tell the Officer that you will be glad to perform any tests or answer any further questions when your attorney is present! This is the most important step! Most officers start the sobriety testing these days without even asking the individual if they will take a sobriety test. Most people who have never been pulled over on suspicion of DWI don’t even know they have begun Standardized Field Sobriety Tests until they have already completed the eye exam. YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO SAY NO AND YOU SHOULD! All you have done is invoked your constitutional right to have counsel present. You need to know if you’re being investigated for DWI and you refuse to submit to sobriety tests it will almost certainly lead to your arrest. However, if you’ve had one too many, perform the tests and fail you will not only be arrested but you will have given evidence to convict you of DWI.
5. Why would you refuse these tests knowing it will lead to your arrest on this evening? Chances are no matter how you perform on these sobriety tests the officer isn’t going to release you if it’s late at night and you smell like alcohol. Not to mention these sobriety tests are difficult for people in good physical shape. The safe bet is to deny them altogether, especially if you have bad balance or coordination. There are three sobriety tests known as the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, the Walk and Turn, and the One Leg Stand. You will not know how you are being graded on these tests and will not be allowed to practice. JUST SAY NO UNLESS YOUR ATTORNEY CAN BE PRESENT TO ADVISE YOU! How will that look to the jury when the Officer arrests you for invoking your rights with no physical evidence?
6. What evidence will the Officer have against you following this advice? In this hypothetical, speeding, admitting to having alcohol with dinner (which is legal), and no sobriety tests because you invoked your right to counsel. Thus, no evidence of intoxication! The officer is going to arrest you, which is almost certainly what would have happened anyway if you think you had one too many to drink. REMEMBER: YOU ARE ON VIDEO WITH AUDIO THE ENTIRE TIME. Even in the back of the police car when the officer is not present.
7. After they arrest you they will read you a form called the DIC-24 form that asks for a specimen of breath or blood and warn you of license suspension if you fail the test or do not take the test. It’s important you know that your license will be suspended for refusing the test or not taking it. At this point you are under arrest and are going to jail anyway. They will not release you if you were to even blow under the legal limit. Where’s the incentive? Besides, the breath test or blood test would be taken 1-2 hours after you were initially pulled over thus it wouldn’t be reliable to show what you were at the time you were driving, which is when your intoxication matters. The jury will get to see that this test wasn’t even offered until AFTER you were arrested!
8. When you are at the jail they will ask you questions for their report such as where you were going, how much sleep you had, when you last ate, etc. DO NOT ANSWER ANY OF THESE QUESTIONS. Again, you only have to tell them your name, address, and show proof of insurance. Their questions are an attempt to build a case against you. Why help them destroy your reputation?
9. As soon as you bond out, contact The Law Office of Jason Nicks at 409-835-6767 and set up your appointment. We can challenge your license being suspended with an ALR hearing if we request it before 15 days from the date of arrest.