When a police officer pulls you over for suspicion of driving while intoxicated, it can be a nerve-wracking experience. Even if you are sober, a wrong decision or unwise comment might land you in trouble.
Knowing how to act and what to say during such encounters will go a long way toward protecting your freedom.
Show respect and stay calm
During a stop, keep your cool and be courteous. Address the law enforcement official as “officer,” and follow all instructions. Avoid sudden movements, and keep your hands visible throughout the sobriety-check process.
Provide basic information
Share your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance; it is the law that you produce these documents on request. That said, you have no obligation to volunteer extra details about your evening or state of mind. Remain tightlipped to avoid unintentional self-incrimination.
When the officer asks a question to which you must respond, speak clearly and concisely. If asked about your alcohol consumption, politely abstain from answering. Remember, you have the right to remain silent.
Decline field sobriety tests
Roadside sobriety tests, such as walking in a straight line or standing on one leg, are voluntary. Refuse them, as these exams are subjective and may incorrectly reflect your level of impairment. The accuracy rate for determining blood alcohol levels using the walk-and-turn test, for instance, stands at an unimpressive 68%. Instead, express your willingness to cooperate with a breath test, which provides a more scientific measurement.
Navigating a DWI stop requires a combination of sensibility, cooperation and knowledge of the law. By staying composed, providing necessary information and understanding the legal landscape, it remains possible to handle these encounters with poise and confidence.