10 Steps To Follow If Pulled Over For a DWI
It is not illegal to drink and drive. It’s illegal to drink, get drunk, impaired or intoxicated, and then drive.
If you find yourself behind the wheel after a night out or happy hour that went a little long, here are tips to dealing with a law enforcement encounter:
Remember all DWI’s are different and you can always request to speak with an attorney.
- Pullover as quickly and safely as possible. Initiating a police chase is not the move you want to make. If you pull into a striped parking lot, park neatly in between the lines.
- Get ready to be interrogated, this is likely one of the more important interviews of your life. Your conversation with the officer very likely will be recorded. Turning on a voice memo on your phone to record your conversation is never a bad idea to make sure it is recorded. It is not illegal to record your conversation with the police. Everything you say and do will be used against you.
- Most traffic stops will start with the officer calmly approaching you, and asking for your license and proof of insurance. Be respectful, they are doing their job, and being difficult with an officer rarely leads to them being easy on you.
- Be ready to hand them over without fumbling around or forgetting one of the two.
- The officer is going to ask you questions. Answer them respectfully and honestly. If you think you might be intoxicated it is time to lawyer up. Don’t answer questions about whether you’ve been drinking or not. Don’t answer questions about where you are going to or coming from. Respectfully state that you would like counsel present before answering any questions. Invoke your constitutional right to counsel.
- The officer will not like your silence or your request for an attorney. You will likely get arrested. Keep in mind the goal here is not necessarily to avoid arrest. The goal is to avoid conviction. In our experience, if you are pulled over after drinking and the officer has any suspicion at all that you are impaired, you are very likely going to be arrested anyway. So, don’t give the Government more evidence by going through their song and dance. Remember they have to prove you guilty, you don’t have to prove your innocence.
- After your initial refusal to answer, the officer will continue to press you. Politely ask if you are free to go or if you are being detained.
- The officer is very likely going to ask you to step out of the car. You don’t have a choice here. Get out. Do it gracefully though, you’re on candid camera. You will be asked to perform standardized field sobriety tests. Request to speak to an attorney before doing these tests. Up to 20% of people who fail these tests are not impaired. In other words, these tests are difficult to pass when sober and very technical. You’ll likely show signs of impairment, and the Government will use this as part of their DWI case to convict you later.
- You might be asked to blow into a portable breath test (PBT). Ask for an attorney and don’t do it. You will be asked to give a specimen of your breath at the jail. Ask to speak to DWI attorney. Don’t do it, unless you are confident you are not intoxicated. The officer is required to give you 20 minutes to speak to an attorney. Try to contact an attorney. If you are under 21, it is likely in your best interest to blow. If you don’t blow the officer is likely to get a search warrant to draw your blood.
- From start to finish, be polite. No one has ever beaten a DWI in Southern Missouri by being belligerent with an officer. They are not your enemy. From the second you get pulled over to when you get released from jail, the goal is to give the state as little evidence as possible to convict you. You can’t prevent the Government from getting your blood. When you get out go home and get some needed sleep then call a lawyer.