Do’s and Dont’s When Pulled Over for a DUI

After prosecuting and defending DUI cases for the past several years, I can tell you that the cases end up blending together because inevitably the suspect does unnecessary acts that will be used against them. So now that I am only a defense attorney, let’s see if we can put an end to this and make the State’s job a bit more difficult. Here are some Do’s and Dont’s if you are ever pulled over for a DUI (note, this means that you have consumed enough alcohol prior to driving that you are positive you would test above the legal limit of 0.08).

DO – Upon being pulled over, pull out your license and insurance card prior to the Officer approaching your vehicle. The Officer will always ask for your identification and proof of insurance. By having that out and ready, you limit the Officer’s ability to observe your motor skills. If you are under the influence, there is a good chance you will exhibit signs that you are drunk, such as fumbling with your wallet or cards, continually looking past your ID or insurance when it’s right in front you, be shaking, etc. If you have them ready, there is less observation time for the Officer.

DO – The Officer will also ask you for your identifying information. Answer them. But do not say anything further.

DON’T – Do NOT look at the Officer while in the vehicle. Sure, it will be suspicious. But, if you can avoid eye contact, the Officer will not be able to notice that your eyes are bloodshot, watery, and red. The Officer may or may not be able to smell alcohol on your breath as well.

DON’T – Do NOT answer any further questions from the Officer. If he asks any questions about why you were pulled over, where you are going, etc., simply state that you wish to consult with an attorney before answering any questions. The Officer will inevitably ask you whether you have been drinking. Again, either do not answer or state that you will not answer the question without consulting with an attorney first. Even answering – I’ve had only a couple drinks, or I’ve had one several hours ago, or just a yes – will only hurt you. As a former prosecutor, I can tell you that any acknowledgement that the defendant consumed alcohol prior to driving – regardless of the exact answer – was noted in the file as “admission” and we knew we could get on the record that you admitted to drinking if it came to that. You are not outsmarting anyone by saying yes, but trying to qualify it.

DO – You will likely be asked to step out of the vehicle. Follow this order and step out of the vehicle. The Officer will likely pat search you for their safety. Comply with this and do not make any statements.

DON’T – The Officer will likely ask you to perform Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) – an eye test, walk-and-turn, and one-legged stand. Do NOT take these tests. They are not required of you by law and you will only fail, which will then be used against you during the prosecution. Politely tell the Officer that you will not take these tests. The Officer will threaten you that failing to do so will lead to your arrest. But, guess what, you are most likely going to be arrested anyways. The FSTs are just further evidence of whether or not you are under the influence.

DON’T – Do NOT take the breath test – PBT – on the side of the road. Again, this is not required by law and will only be potential evidence against you. And at best, it will help the Officer determine that he or she has probable cause to arrest you. As before, you may be threatened with arrest. Same thing – don’t be coerced into taking the test when you don’t have to. And if you do take the PBT, DON’T do this:

DON’T – When you are arrested and placed in the back of the squad car, do NOT do anything but sit there. Do NOT talk, sing, kick, bang on the partition glass or cage, lie down, move around in the back seat, and try not to fall asleep. (I really encourage you to take a look at the link for the singing. It’s hilarious.)

DO – At the station, the Officer will read you the Implied Consent Advisory and will ask you if you want to speak with an attorney. DO take advantage of this and call a Minnesota DUI attorney.

DON’T – Do NOT give any statements about the incident at the police station when asked or interrogated by an Officer. Immediately demand to speak with an attorney.

Following these Do’s and Dont’s will likely not prevent you from getting arrested and charged with a DUI. But, it will have helped by preventing you from providing unnecessary evidence to what is likely an already strong case against you. Of course, the best practice to avoid a DUI is to call a cab or a sober driver. And the final DO – Do contact a Minnesota DUI attorney as quickly as possible to get working on your case.