You understand that drinking and driving is unsafe and irresponsible, but no one is above making the occasional bad decision. Further, there is a legal blood alcohol content limit for a reason – having a glass of wine with dinner does not make you a bad actor. Whatever the situation, however, if you have been pulled over by the police and are charged with DUI, there are certain things you should do that apply across the board. Knowing how best to proceed can help make the entire experience and your case that much less excruciating.
Accept the Reality that You May Well be Arrested
Even if you had a cocktail before dinner three hours ago, the reality is that the officer who stops you may arrest you. As terrible as this sounds, it is important to remain calm and to deal with the likelihood that you are going to spend a night in jail. If, for example, you refuse to blow into the breathalyzer, your arrest is likely imminent. One of the problems is, however, that the accuracy of these tests is questionable at best. Remind yourself that an arrest is not a conviction.
Begin Building Your Defense from the Outset
If you are arrested for DUI, everything you say and do in the arresting officer’s presence is likely being recorded and can later be used against you. Keep this in mind from the minute you pull over and roll down your window. Your best bet is to adhere closely to the following objectives:
- Be polite to the officer
- Respond only to the officer’s critical questions – and keep your responses brief and to the point – do not engage in a freeform conversation
- Consider whether it is in your best interests to blow into the device and/or to take field sobriety tests or not (the physical tests can be difficult for even the stone-cold sober to perform, so assess your condition and make your determination)
You are likely better off in the long run providing as little information as possible – including the information provided by the tests – and accepting the fact that you are likely spending the night in jail. This is a judgment call that only you can make, but keep in mind that the less incriminating evidence you provide, the weaker the case against you.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
If you made a mistake, you made a mistake, and this too shall pass. Everyone makes mistakes, and there is no reason to dwell on the black mark you think this one leaves on your character. Learning from this mistake and never letting it happen again is the best path forward. Further, remember that you have rights in this matter that are very much worth protecting.