Noticing police lights flashing in your rearview mirror can be an unsettling experience. Now imagine that you went out and had a few alcoholic drinks before getting behind the wheel. You are aware of the strict DUI penalties in Alabama and know that an arrest could have a negative impact on both your personal and professional life. Naturally, this unsettling sensation may progress to panic.
If you find yourself in a situation similar to this, it is crucial that you know how to best conduct yourself.
Your heart is probably running a mile a minute, but it is important to remain calm. Panicking will only make the situation worse, so take a deep breath and pull your vehicle over to a safe place. The police officer is taking note of your every movement from the moment he or she signals you to pull over. Do not make any sudden movements or conduct yourself in a manner that would suggest you are under the influence.
Understand that everything you say and do from this point forward may affect a subsequent criminal trial or other related hearings. Your goal is to avoid showing any signs that you were driving while drunk.
Be polite and respectful
Now is not the time to get frustrated and lash out. Rude or disrespectful behavior can only increase the likelihood of an arrest. If you cooperate and simply follow the officer’s request for your driver’s license and insurance documentation, you are much more likely to avoid a worst-case scenario. Condescending answers or blunt remarks will not do you any good here.
Avoid incriminating answers
If the police officer suspects that you have been driving impaired, he or she will seek probable cause to reinforce this suspicion and justify an arrest. Unless you give the officer clear, visible evidence of drunk driving, this will likely come in the form of a line of questioning. You have a couple of options when the officer asks you a question.
There is not a legal requirement for you to answer, so you may choose to ignore the officer and remain silent. If there is a concern that you might incriminate yourself, keeping quiet or simply telling the officer that you decline to answer may be your best course of action. You may also choose to answer the questions but be careful about providing too much information that could prove costly in the future.
Decline field sobriety testing
Understanding your rights as it relates to field sobriety testing is crucial. You are not under any legal obligation to comply with these tests. This is simply another attempt by the officer to show probable cause. The police may continue to try to get you to submit to a field sobriety test in order to gather more evidence against you, but your best choice is to politely decline the request.
If the officer ultimately decides to arrest you, make sure you contact an experienced professional to assist you with your case.