While sometimes it may be your first reaction, the last thing you should do if you find yourself being pulled over for an OWI is panic. It can be beneficial to know what you should do in this circumstance before it happens to you. Check out nine steps below discussing what you SHOULD do if you are being pulled over for an OWI.
Find a Safe Place to Pull Over
As soon as an officer pulls you over in suspicion of drunk driving, he/she begins to make observations to put on the police report. It is particularly important to be sure that you pull over in a location that is safe so that you do not immediately get a tick in the impaired column. Although this seems to be superficial, it is not taken lightly. They can also make judgements based upon whether you stop abruptly or drive erratically.
Avoid Making Sudden Movements or Acting Suspiciously
Officers are trained to keep themselves safe during any traffic stop. Be sure to keep your hands still and do not perform any movements that an officer could deem as threatening. If you need to obtain your license or insurance information from another area of the vehicle, advise the officer of what you are doing.
Being Polite Goes a Long Way
You are far less likely to be arrested if you are polite and courteous to the officer. If you come off rude, hostile, or uncooperative the officer is more likely to arrest you. Be sure that you are respectful with whatever you say to the officer, and you are more likely to come out on the desired side.
Do Not Answer Incriminating Questions, But Do NOT Lie
Officers are trained to use your anxiety against you. They will sometimes ask questions such as “how much have you had to drink?” You are not legally required to answer this question, and it is advised that you do not to avoid self-incrimination. It is also important that you do not lie to the officer as that could be considered a separate crime.
Consider Whether to Refuse a Field Sobriety Test
You are not legally obligated to perform a field sobriety test. You can refuse this just as you should refuse to answer any questions that you think may be self-incriminating. However, it’s important to note that there could be consequences for a refusal, such as utilizing the refusal as probable cause to arrest you if there are any other indicators of impairment.
Consider Refusing a Hand-Held Portable Breathalyzer
Just like the last two steps, blowing into a portable breathalyzer is also not legally required. Portable breadth tests (PBT’s) are also notorious for being unreliable. Just like above, it’s important to note that there could be consequences for a refusal, such as utilizing the refusal as probable cause to arrest you if there are any other indicators of impairment.
Take a Chemical Test at the Police Station or Hospital
Unlike the recent points, you ARE legally required to take a chemical test at the police station or hospital after you are read the Informing the Accused form. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test at the police station or hospital, your license may be revoked for up to one year for failure to take the test. Additionally, if police have probable cause that you were impaired, they will likely get a warrant from a judge and force you to take the test.
After Release, Write Down Everything You Can Remember About Your Arrest
If you write down everything as soon as you can, it could be easier for an attorney to help defend your case. If possible, be sure to include…
- What you were doing and where you were before you drove
- How much you had to drink and what you were drinking
- How long after you were drinking before you were stopped
- How the officer behaved and any instructions he gave you
- What you said to the officer and how you responded to his instructions
- Where you were pulled over
- When and if you were read your Miranda rights
- When and if you took the chemical test and how long it had been since you drank