By the time a police officer turns on their flashing lights and siren, they believe they already have probable cause to suspect a driving infraction. From the moment you roll down your window, their main goal will be to gather more evidence to confirm their suspicions.
They will ask you questions about your activity and gauge your responses to determine if you have had something to drink recently based on how you speak and behave. When an officer believes that you have had too much to drink, they may ask you to step out of the vehicle.
It’s important to recognize that the way that you behave during the traffic stop could play a role in your defense against charges later.
Know and assert your rights
Many people build the case against themselves on behalf of law inforcement by talking too much and volunteering unnecessary information. While you may not be able to invoke your right to remain silent during a traffic stop, you can try to limit how much you share with the police officer.
Similarly, knowing to ask whether an officer intends to arrest or detain you or if you are free to go could be the difference between a traffic stop pressing on for some time or ending quickly without consequence.
Know how to handle test requests
Technically, police officers with probable cause to suspect chemical impairments may be able to demand a field sobriety test or a chemical breath test. Your performance on these tests and your response to the request may influence how the police officer treats you and your options in court later.
Refusing a test might mean that the officer arrests you right away and then testifies about that refusal later in court. Drivers who believe there is an explanation for their test results, like prescription medication or a specialized diet that they follow, could lay the foundation for their defense by informing the officer of that information during the traffic stop.
Realize you can comply while still asserting your rights
People often think that encounters with the police are all or nothing. They either do exactly what the officer asks or they are non-compliant. You can comply with a police officer’s legal requests and treat them with respect without necessarily ignoring attempts to violate your rights.
When you remain calm and know your rights during a driving under the influence (DUI) traffic stop, you will have a better chance of avoiding arrest or fighting those charges. Understanding the rules that apply to DUI offenses can help those facing criminal accusations related to drunk driving.