Police Pullover

“How To Handle A Police Stop for DUI | DUI Attorneys Seattle WA”

Getting pulled over by the police can be a very unnerving experience, regardless of whether or not you have committed any crime. If you ever find yourself pulled over while driving under the influence or at a DUI police stop following this information will help you protect your rights throughout the stop, and assist your Seattle DUI attorney in defending you if you are charged with DUI.

When police officers stop a driver, they commonly report that the person had trouble finding and presenting their license.  The police report will read as though you had difficulty because you were drunk and could not manage the simple task of finding your license, regardless if that was the case. Always keep your license, registration, and insurance in easily reached locations. If you keep them in your glove box, try to keep as little else there as possible. If you see police lights in your mirror immediately turn on your indicator and pull over at the closest safe spot, taking extra precaution not to hit the curb. Wait for the police officer to approach your vehicle, and think about where your important documents are while you are waiting. When the police officer asks for your license, registration, or proof of insurance retrieve them as calmly as possible. Avoid rolling down the window more than a few inches, as this will limit the officer’s ability to smell intoxicants, and see into your vehicle.

The most common first question an officer will ask when pulling someone over is “do you know why I pulled you over?” You should never admit to knowing why you were pulled over. Just simply answer that you do not know. There is no reason to give the police more reason to arrest you than they already have.

It is incredibly important to be courteous to police at any time, but particularly if you are facing a potential DUI charge. Police officers are people too and do not respond well to rudeness, and if they do not like you they are more likely to think you are guilty of something. Be polite even if you are certain that you are going to be arrested. Your conduct while under arrest will be closely examined by the judge and jury, and you want both of them to like you.

As a general rule of thumb it is not wise to talk to the police.  Anything that you say can be used against you but refusing to speak to an officer cannot. From the moment that the officer pulls up behind you they are going to be searching for evidence of intoxication. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something incriminating. Even your voice itself can be used against you. One of the most common pieces of evidence of intoxication that officers find is slurred and repetitive speech. A complete refusal to speak to an officer will likely result in your arrest. If an officer were to ask basic questions such as “What is your full name?” or “What is your home address?” you should answer them. However, if they probe you further and the questions begin relating to the DUI stop itself you should politely respond that you were advised by a lawyer not to answer that type of question. Questions such as “How many drinks have you had tonight?”, or “Where were you drinking?” do not have good answers.  Just remember not to use language like “I’m not telling you” or “I refuse to answer that” as combativeness is never a good idea. If an officer is persistent after you decline to answer a question, you should ask him if you are under arrest or free to go. If he says you are not, you should tell him that you do not want to answer any more questions until you speak with an attorney.

It is important to remember that there is a difference between disclosing the entire truth and answering truthfully. When you are at a DUI stop you are not obligated to provide any information to the police that can be used to convict you. That being said, do not lie. Police go through a thorough training and know how to recognize signs of drugs and alcohol. If you tell the police you have had nothing to drink when you reek of alcohol it will make the police more suspicious. If you cannot truthfully say something that helps you, you should politely decline to answer the question. Also if an officer asks you to blow in their face, respectfully decline.

Field sobriety tests are not mandatory. An officer may request that you do one, but by law you are not required to. It is commonly thought that if you pass a field sobriety test than an officer is simply going to release you, but that is not the case. The fact that an officer is even requesting that you do a field sobriety test, whether at a DUI police stop or after getting pulled over, means that they already have reason to suspect that you have been drinking and are likely going to arrest you and potentially charge you with a DUI. Even if you believe you can do well on the tests you should know that field sobriety tests are structured for failure.  The tests they will ask you to perform are difficult while sober, one even involves involuntary eye reflexes.  Furthermore the “tests” are completely subjective, there is no way to establish that you have passed or failed aside from what the office reports. If you genuinely have not been drinking it may be safe to take the test, however under any other circumstances you should politely refuse. Remember even if you feel like you did well on the field sobriety test the reality is that the officer can write whatever they want in your report, noting several mistakes you may yourself not recollect making, but if it comes to a court of law it will boil down to your word against theirs.

It is important not to readily believe everything that the police say to you at a DUI police stop. You may have seen movies where an officer questioning one suspect will say that an accomplice suspect in the other room already confessed. Well, that doesn’t just happen in the movies. It is a police officer’s job to arrest people for crimes such as DUI and for this reason they are particularly good at getting whatever evidence they may need to arrest you. They may goad you into admitting guilt or taking a sobriety test by promising to release you or claiming that they already have proof you are driving under the influence.  Again, just try and answer as few questions as possible and be polite.

It is virtually always advisable to take a breath test if you are arrested but do so at the station.  Prosecutors do not need the results of a breath test to convict you of a DUI violation, however they can use your refusal to take one against you, claiming that you did not take it because you knew you were over the legal blood alcohol limit. If you refuse to take the breath test the department of licensing will automatically suspended your license for one year.  That means that even if your court case were to get dismissed you would still lose your license for an entire year, the only exception being if you elected to get an ignition interlock device that is both costly and embarrassing. Beyond automatically losing your license for a year you may actually face higher penalties if you are ultimately convicted of a DUI violation, and prosecutors will be less willing to work with you attorney. People are often confused by this because the police have a ‘portable breath test’ that they can administer on the side of the road. The roadside breath test is not the same as a breath test at a police station. It is less accurate, and completely voluntary. You should not agree to take a portable breath test unless you have had nothing to drink. If an officer asks you to take a portable breath test you should politely tell him that you will not take that test, but that you will take the official test at the station.  It should be noted that if you have reason to suspect that the test results are inaccurate you have a right to go to a hospital after you are released and get a blood test, though you will be responsible for any costs incurred.

If ultimately you are arrested for a DUI violation the first thing you should do is tell the officer that you wish to speak to an Seattle DUI attorney. If you are unable to afford a private attorney a public defender will be assigned to you, no matter what time the arrest is made. Not only will an attorney be there to advise you but as soon as you request to speak to an attorney the police are required by law to stop asking you questions.

Throughout the whole DUI arrest procedure you should be gathering evidence on your case. Every piece of evidence gathered for the police record is done so to achieve a conviction against you, it is up to you to gather evidence to prove yourself innocent. If you are able to get your own witness to testify in court that you were not drunk, do so. If you are held in a cell with other people ask for their information. Find out who the booking officer is and ask them for a statement about how you appeared when you were booked. If you have someone pick you up from the station also ask them to write a statement. If you were pulled over for driving behavior such as swerving or driving outside of the lines take pictures of the scene to show that you could have easily swerved or driven outside of the lines whether or not you had been drinking.

The above are general suggestions and it is suggested that you contact a legal professional regarding your specific case. Nothing in this information is intended to form an attorney/client relationship between you and the firm of Findley & Rogers, PLLC.