What To Do If Stopped for DWI

If you are confronted by a police officer it is important to understand your rights under the law. The most important thing to remember is that the quickest way to go to jail is to become rude and abrasive with the officer. Police officers have a difficult job, and deal daily with people in stressful situations. Additionally, remember that police officers are just like anyone else – some are good, some are bad. Don’t exacerbate the situation by taking your anxiety out on the officer. Be polite and cordial.

Preparing Yourself

As soon as the officer has pulled you over, locate your driver’s license and proof of insurance in preparation for the officer approaching you at your window. If the officer has already asked you to step out of the vehicle before he approaches you, make sure you locate these items in advance, as they always ask for them. This shows the officer that you are cognizant of the situation and are willing to cooperate with him or her. Little details like these can make the difference between whether you spend the night at home or in jail. Additionally, this creates evidence on your behalf that you have not lost the normal use of your physical or mental faculties. Remember that you are almost certainly being recorded on video, and all of your actions will be closely scrutinized later on for signs of intoxication.

Answering a Tough Question

Oftentimes, if the officer smells alcohol on your breath and/or person, they may ask you whether you have had anything to drink. Many people will tell the officer that they have not been drinking, out of fear that by admitting it, they are more likely to go to jail. In fact, the truth is more likely just the opposite. Officers interact with people who have ingested alcohol frequently. By denying the truth, you make yourself less credible to the officer, and therefore less likely to be permitted to leave. The officer will then in all likelihood ask you how many drinks you have had. Remember that you have an absolute right under our Constitution not to incriminate yourself. Simply ask the officer if you are under arrest, and inform them that you would like to have your lawyer present to advise you so that you don’t accidentally incriminate yourself. In reality, the answer to this question does not make all that much difference. If the officer has begun going down this line of questioning, the outcome will depend more on your performance of field sobriety tests than on your answer.

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