During a relaxing dinner with friends or family, you may have a couple of drinks with your meal. When you head home, you believe that you can safely drive and may not feel intoxicated. However, on your way home, you see flashing lights in your rear view mirror and begin to wonder whether you made the right decision to drive.
From the moment the officer approaches your vehicle, he or she is conducting an investigation to determine whether you are impaired. Every question asked and every request made will serve that purpose. Your actions over the next few minutes may not keep you from an arrest, but they may help in your defense.
Don’t add fuel to the fire
Most DUI arrests occur, at least in part, due to the officer’s observations. Even though you may need to comply with certain requests, you don’t have to give the officer any more ammunition against you. Consider the following:
- Slowly and deliberately pull your vehicle over to the side of the road. Turn off your vehicle and turn on the dome light. Putting your hands on the wheel where the officer can see them lets him or her know you mean no harm. If you are concerned with your safety in an unlit area, you may drive to a lit area before pulling over, but be sure to put on your hazard lights to let the officer know you understand that you must stop.
- Michigan law requires you to provide your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. Politely and calmly hand it to the officer.
- The law also requires you to submit to a breath test. Even if the results fall below the state’s legal limit of .08, you could face arrest because the machines used in the field often give inaccurate readings.
- You are not legally obligated to participate in field sobriety tests. The vast majority of people fail these tests even when sober. In addition, they are highly subjective on the part of the officer. You may be tempted to participate in them to “clear you name,” but you may want to resist this impulse.
- In the same vain, you may want to tell the officer that you “only had a couple of drinks.” This, too, would be a mistake since such statements can come back to haunt you. It’s best not to say anything at all without a lawyer present.
Perhaps one of the most important things you can do during a DUI traffic stop is to remain calm and polite. An officer may attempt to provoke you into doing or saying something incriminating.
Exercise your rights
If the officer arrests you on suspicion of DUI, it may be in your best interests to contact an attorney as soon as possible. A DUI can affect your life long after you deal with the criminal case. Your personal and professional lives could feel the effects of such a charge, and achieving the best possible outcome could eliminate or reduce those repercussions.