If you're pulled over on suspicion of a DUI, how you behave in these crucial moments with the office will impact how your case eventually plays out. It's important to know and protect your rights while also staying calm and focused, so as not to escalate the situation. Below, the DUI defense attorney of the Law Office of Steven P. Minks in Poteau, OK, discusses how you should act and what to avoid doing when stopped.
A Guide to Handling a DUI Police Encounter
1. Avoid Sudden Movements
When you're first pulled over, the officer will approach you from the rear of your vehicle; this path gives them a better view of both you and the inside of your car. Don't make any sudden movements at this point such as reaching into your glove compartment or rummaging in your pockets or purse. Keep both hands on the wheel so the officer can see them. Unexpected movements, even if they are minor or you are trying to prepare for the interaction, can needlessly escalate a routine stop into something much more serious.
2. Don't Answer Potentially Incriminating Questions & Don't Lie
If an officer suspects you of being under the influence, they are going to try to get you to incriminate yourself. If any question feels like a trap, you are not legally obligated to respond. Don't lie to the officer in hopes of getting out of the situation. All you have to do is politely decline to answer, and inform the cop you need to speak with your lawyer. As a general matter, you should not say anything to the police because ANYTHING you say CAN and WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU. Why in the world would you say anything to the police who have detained you against your will? I tell my clients to say the following. “Officer, I know you’re just doing your job, and I don’t mean any disrespect, but I don’t answer questions without my lawyer present. Am I free to leave or am I under arrest?” If they tell you that you are free to leave. GO IMMEDIATELY. If they say anything other than you are free to go, remain silent. Comply with lawful orders but do not do anything voluntarily. If you are not sure if you have to do something, ask the officer “is that a request or an order?” In general, the goal in a police encounter is to end it as quickly as possible. The more talking you do, and the more testing you do, the longer the encounter will be. Longer police encounters are typically going to end worse than shorter ones.
3. Refuse Field & Breathalyzer Testing
Field sobriety testing is notoriously unreliable; and, if the breathalyzer shows a reading over the legal limit, it could jeopardize your case. You can politely refuse both, but you will likely be arrested and taken to the police station. Once there, you may or may not want to consent to a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol content. Refusing the test makes your potential driver’s license suspension more severe. However, you will most likely incriminate yourself by taking a chemical test. Personally, I take the view that administrative problems (like licensing suspensions) are always better than criminal problems (like incarceration). It is my view you should refuse all testing and hire a competent defense attorney who can handle the licensing problems and defend your criminal case. Either way, Inform the officer you are invoking your right to silence and immediately call an attorney to start facing your DUI.
If you are arrested in Eastern Oklahoma, trust the Law Office of Steven P. Minks to give you the quality legal counsel you need to secure the best possible outcome. Call (918) 647-3247 to speak with a DUI defense attorney, or contact via the firm's website. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter for more tips, advice, and information.