TEN THINGS TO DO WHEN PULLED OVER ON SUSPICION OF DUI

1. REMAIN CALM

The visual of emergency lights in the rear-view mirror is unsettling to nearly everyone. It is important though to remain focus and perform safe driving actions. It is important that you react properly, by pulling over in a safe and reasonable manner. Make sure you immediately decrease your speed and select an area that does not interfere with traffic. If you are in doubt, it is generally more important to pull over and the officer will instruct you to move to a safer location.

2. NOTE THE TIME OF THE STOP

Once a stop has occurred, many of the actions law enforcement must preform are under time constraints. Knowing the time of the stop is very helpful.

3. HAVE ALL YOUR VEHICLE PAPERWORK READILY AVAILABLE

One of the first observations a police officer makes is the driver’s ability to produce the proper paperwork; driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance. To assist you all current vehicle information should be kept in a folder or container that can be immediately accessed. An important note is that the driver should wait for the officer to ask for production of the documents rather than immediately reaching or searching for them. Officer’s are concerned about their safety, and may overreact to movements they believe maybe precursors to a directed threat. Even if the movements are dealt with without incident, you may know have an adrenaline pumped up officer dealing with your case.

4. LISTEN TO WHY THE OFFICER STOPPED YOU

The first thing an officer should do upon making contact with you is to explain why he pulled you over in the first place. Was the violation a moving violation, i.e. speeding, failing to stop at a traffic signal, failure to maintain your lane; or administrative such as a registration violation or failing to have your headlights on.

5. DO NOT ADMIT TO DRINKING OR COMMITTING THE ALLEGED TRAFFIC OFFENSE

This is difficult for many individuals to do. First is the desire not to be dishonest with the police officer. The second is the belief that if I cooperate the officer may overlook any transgressions. This seldom occurs. You have a Constitutional right not to incriminate yourself. As to what to answer, a statement such as “I will accept any citation for [the stated reason for the stop] or other infractions you believe I may have committed and deal with them in court.”

6. BE CAUTIOUS ON AGREEING TO DO THE FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS

Despite what the officer might tell you, there is no legal requirement to perform the Field Sobriety Tests. The tests are the primary way the for the officer to establish probable cause to arrest you. Many times the officer will state “I need you to perform these tests so I can determine if it is safe for you to continue to drive.” If you already admitted to drinking the determination has in most cases already been made. Some argue that refusing the tests in “consciousness of guilt,” but this is ridiculous as the officer does not explain to you the clues that he is looking for or what constitutes a passing grade. It is likely the only time in your educational experience when you are not told the criteria, nor even given a chance to practice the requirements. This does not take into account physical disabilities one may have or the simple lack of agility.

7. DO NOT CONSENT TO AN EVIDENTIARY TEST OF BREATH OR BLOOD

The United States Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that the taking of an evidentiary test was a search within the context the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. This requires a search warrant absent the given consent of the person to be searched. Some jurisdictions do have a civil penalty, i.e. your driver’s license suspended for a time frame but that does not currently occur in Nevada. (If you are arrested your case is sent separately to the DMV for an administrative review in which revocation is upheld 95% of the time) The search warrant is suppose to provide facts that establish probable cause to conduct the search. If the State does not meet their burden for probable cause a test may not be taken, or after a review of the search warrant it may be found that probable cause was lacking and the test results are suppressed.

8. IF AN EVIDENTIARY TEST IS CONDUCTED (BREATH OR BLOOD), NOTE THE TIME OF THE TEST.

If for whatever reason a test is performed, note the time of the test. As stated above the tests are time sensitive in how they may be used. This is because of the way alcohol reacts in the body. There are generally three phases, absorption; equilibrium; and, elimination. The time of stop to the beginning of any phase are related and therefore knowing the times can be instrumental to the defense.

9. KEEP ALL YOUR PAPERWORK

Every piece of paperwork may have evidentiary value. A tow sheet will have the time that the truck was dispatched to the time the truck arrived and left the scene. If you are taken into custody an inventory of your personal belongings is taken. This can be used to check the arresting officer’s memory of the events, i.e. what were you wearing at the time of arrest, etc.

10. SEEK LEGAL ADVICE

Ensure that your legal rights are protected and that actions are taken to prevent anymore harm to you. For instance, if you take a breath test and are found above the legal limit, your license is taken and you are given a piece of paperwork. This paperwork acts as you license for seven days. An attorney can assist you in getting a temporary license until an administrative hearing has occurred and/or the criminal matter disposed of. If caught driving on a suspended or revoked license the possible penalties include 30 days in jail and a revocation of one year.







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