Is there a right way to conduct yourself during a routine traffic stop or when you’re suspected of driving under the influence (DUI)? Yes, absolutely! As a DUI attorney with over 30 years of experience, I have seen and heard it all.
I’ve heard stories from clients about their behavior during a DUI stop that led me to warn others about what not to do if they’re
ever suspected of DUI in the future, and I’m happy to share the same insight with you. From this point forward, I’m advising you
not to make these mistakes if you’re ever suspected of DUI:
1. Don’t refuse to cooperate with the officer. You may have heard about that Florida attorney who refused to roll down
his window when he was suspected of DUI. As a former prosecutor, I don’t recommend this. Instead, it’s better to roll down your window, and answer the officer’s questions in a calm and polite manner.
2. Don’t be rude to the officer. Want a one-way trip to jail? Be disrespectful to the officer, use obscene language, and refuse to hand over your license and registration. With DUI stops, you’ll get a lot more with honey than vinegar so treat the officer the way you’d want to be treated – with decency and respect. After all, officers are human and they don’t take kindly
to rude suspects.
3. Don’t have an open container of alcohol in your vehicle. The fastest way to a search of your vehicle is to have an open container of alcohol in plain view. If the officers see an open container of alcohol, the cops have the green light to search your vehicle for drugs, weapons, and other possible evidence of a crime.
4. Don’t consent to a search of your vehicle. There are limits to warrantless searches, including vehicle searches. If
you don’t have anything of concern in plain sight, the officers generally need to ask to search your vehicle. If they ask for your permission, my advice is to politely refuse.
5. Don’t tell the officer you’ve been drinking. If the officer asks you if you’ve been drinking and you have, don’t say, “Why yes, officer, I have been drinking.” Instead, say something to the effect of, “With all due respect, I decline to answer that question.” If you admit to drinking, it will only act as ammunition against you.
6. Don’t tell the officer how much you had to drink. If the officer asks you how much you had to drink, again, politely decline
to answer the question. If you say, “I had two beers at dinner” but a breath or blood test says you had much more to drink than that, it will discredit you in court and strengthen the prosecutor’s case.
7. Don’t do the field sobriety tests. There is NO legal requirement to take the field sobriety tests, the divided
attention tests conducted roadside. The evidence collected on these tests are used to obtain probable cause to make a DUI arrest. The evidence is also used to nail someone in court. Since there is no penalty for refusing (politely), you’re a lot better off saying “no thank you.”