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In DUI Stop, Best Course is Cooperation without Incrimination

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By Jim Greene

on January 25, 2011

If you’re pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, your actions in the first few minutes can have a significant impact on the outcome of the stop. The best course of action is to be as cooperative as possible without aiding the case against you.

As soon as you see the flashing red light in your mirror, look for a safe place to pull over, and do it smoothly. If you brake suddenly, swerve, or stop in an obviously unsafe place, you’ve already provided the officer with damaging evidence for the police report.

Once you’ve stopped, put your hands on the steering wheel and wait for the officer to approach. Police prefer to approach from the rear, knowing that the suspect is not in a position to attack without warning.

Behaving Badly Makes Matters Worse

Be polite. A rude, argumentative, or aggressive attitude will not only rule out any chance of not being arrested, but will fuel the officer’s desire to make the case against you. Failure to do what is legally required of you can be interpreted as resisting arrest, and make matters worse.

Stay calm and say as little as possible. Many nervous suspects volunteer incriminating evidence or get themselves into trouble with obvious lies. If you’re arrested, lies told to an officer will help the prosecution’s case against you. You are required to give your name and provide your license, registration, and proof of insurance. You have the legal right to refuse to answer further questions. Be polite when exercising that right.

Field Testing Should Be Declined

Respectfully decline a field sobriety test (FST) or a field breath test. Even people who’ve had nothing to drink can fail the FST, due to lack of coordination and the distraction of being dangerously close to passing traffic. Field breath tests can be unreliable, especially when administered by officers with insufficient training.

You are required to submit to a blood test to measure your blood alcohol concentration. This will be conducted at a police station or medical facility and is statistically more reliable than any tests conducted in the field.

If you’re arrested, immediately exercise your legal right to counsel and contact an experienced DUI attorney. Having an aggressive defense provides your best chance for acquittal. If you’re convicted, your attorney will fight to see that your punishment is fair.

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