You’ve had a drink at a party or at the bar, though you don’t think you’re drunk. Still, you get pulled over. What you do or don’t do during the next few seconds will have a huge impact on whether you’re charged with DUI or DWI, and on what the eventual outcome of your case may be.
Your goal when you get pulled over should be to provide the police with as little ammunition as possible.
Start by having your license and registration ready for the officer when he steps up to your window. If you fumble for them you can give him reasonable cause to suspect that you may be impaired. You want to offer the impression that you are completely under control.
If you are concerned that the officer might smell alcohol on you, then be careful how far you lower the window. You are only legally required to lower the window just enough to pass your information through.
The officer may ask if you know why he pulled you over. Just say “No, sir.” Be respectful, don’t lie, and don’t offer any additional information. For all you know, your tail light is out or you were speeding. If the officer asks whether you’ve been drinking you aren’t obligated to answer, though refusing to answer may of course give him the impression that you were drinking.
If you are asked to step out of the car you should do so calmly and politely. However, avoid taking the “field sobriety tests.” You aren’t required to take them. They are highly subjective and they’re not exactly easy to pass even while you’re sober. You will be taken into custody.
You should also be prepared for the police to ask you to take a portable breathalyzer test. PBTs are notoriously inaccurate, so much so that their results aren’t usually admissible in court. However, they also offer a bit of a catch-22: if you take it and your blood alcohol registers above legal limits then you will be arrested, but you’ll also be arrested if you refuse it.
You may also be asked to take a blood test. Know your rights! The police have to have a warrant to take your blood. There is no such thing as implied consent.
As soon as you are able you should call a DWI lawyer. You can even ask for a phone to call a lawyer the moment you’ve been arrested. Keep asking. Trying to get to a lawyer should be the only words you use. Resist the urge to talk about anything else. Remember, anything you say can and will be used against you.
When you meet with your defense attorney he or she will be able to advise you on how you can defend yourself against these charges, and what your next steps should be.
When you’re facing a DUI or DWI in Minnesota you want the best legal representation that you can get. While we want you to be safe and to drive sober we also know that things happen. Keep Barna, Guzy & Steffen in mind if you run into trouble!