You probably know that you should never drive when you are drunk, and even if you don’t, you could still find yourself getting pulled over on suspicion of DUI. This experience is often stressful for everyone, especially if you have had a drink or two.
People’s nerves often cause them to act in ways they shouldn’t at a DUI stop. Cops count on this. Do not say something that makes you appear guilty. Even a simple apology could be taken as a sign of guilt, and admitting you only had a “drink or two” can make the situation even worse.
Why your behavior at a DUI stop matters
A DUI conviction in Alabama comes with serious penalties, including fines and potential jail time. It could also impact your personal and professional life, so knowing how to act when you are at a DUI stop is important.
Cops must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over, but once they pull you over, they cannot arrest you without probable cause.
Therefore, the cop may have seen you speeding, weaving through traffic or drifting off into another lane. This gives them reasonable suspicion to pull you over.
When you first see the cop’s headlights appear in your rearview mirror, pull over to a safe place at the first chance you get. Place your hands on the steering wheel where the officer can see them.
Do not act aggressively
Always be polite and respectful. Acting belligerent or rude will get you nowhere. State your name if the officer asks and provide your driver’s license and insurance information, which the officer will likely request. It helps if you already have them in a place that you can easily access.
After they have your name and documents, do not say anything else and do not submit to any field sobriety tests. Many people do not know that they have a right to refuse these tests.
Field sobriety tests involve things such as walking a straight line, reciting the alphabet backwards or following a light with your eyes. The cop might also ask you basic questions about yourself, such as your birthdate or what you do for a living, to see if you give inconsistent answers or to check for slurred speech.
Again, you do not have to answer any questions. The cops should not pressure you into answering questions. If they do, tell them you will not say anything without your lawyer present.
The only question you should ask is if you are free to leave. If they are not going to arrest you, they have no right to hold you there. Make sure you get your documents back from them before you leave.
What to do if you are arrested
If you are arrested for DUI, continue to say nothing. Although you may want to fight the charge, this is not the time. This is why part of your Miranda rights include the statement that anything you say can and will be used against you in court.
You have many rights at a DUI stop and during an arrest. These rights are sometimes violated without people realizing it.
Comply with the cop’s instructions through the arrest process and ask to speak with an attorney. Once you meet with a criminal defense attorney, you can explain your side of the story and receive professional advice on defending yourself against the charge.