Few things cause as much anxiety as seeing a police cruiser’s flashing lights in your rearview mirror, especially after having a couple of drinks with friends.
Regardless of whether your blood alcohol content (BAC) is over the legal limit of 0.08% in Louisiana, the way you respond to officers is vital to defending against a potential DWI/DUI conviction.
How to respond if police stop you
Regardless of how much alcohol you drank or whether you drank anything at all, it’s vital to keep these five things in mind:
- Pull over quickly and safely: Once you see the police lights, find a safe spot and pull over as soon as possible. Turn off the ignition, remove sunglasses, hats or hoods and put your hands on the steering wheel.
- Be civil to the officer: Acting aggressively, angry or refusing to follow the officer’s commands could result in additional charges. Be polite and follow instructions but don’t answer any questions over whether you’ve been drinking.
- Silence is the best policy: The Fifth Amendment protects you from incriminating yourself. You don’t have to tell the officer whether you’ve had anything to drink, where you’ve been or who you were with.
- Understand the consequences of refusing testing: If the officer believes you’ve been drinking, they will likely ask you to take a field sobriety test as well as a Breathalyzer. You can refuse, but you face automatic penalties for doing so. These tests are often inaccurate.
- Stay calm and contact an attorney: If the officer places you under arrest for DWI, try to keep it together and immediately request a lawyer. Police cannot question you without your attorney present.
Why should your first call be to a lawyer?
How you respond to being pulled over and your subsequent interaction with the police is crucial to your defense. Your first and only call should be to an experienced DWI/DUI defense attorney. Police cannot monitor conversations between you and your lawyer. They can and will listen to communications with family members or anyone else.
While the best defense is never drinking and driving, a knowledgeable attorney understands how police and prosecutors work in DWI/DUI cases. Your lawyer will challenge whether police had a legitimate reason to stop you in the first place and question every piece of evidence, including results of field sobriety and Breathalyzer tests.