What To Do If You are Pulled Over for Suspicion of Driving under the Influence

Stories and Lessons from a Seasoned Criminal Defense Attorney:

  • BE POLITE

A 21 year-old client hired me for his DUI.  He was intelligent, well spoken and so respectful to ME.  You can imagine my shock when he was heard on the Officers’ DUI recording calling the officers, “Pigs…” and screaming,  “I am not coming out of my car—I know my rights!” Hence, he was not just arrested for DUI, but RESISTING arrest as well.

Look, for most, EVEN me, a trained criminal defense attorney, being pulled over for any reason is a heart pumping nervous experience.  You never know what the Officer is thinking; how their day has been; or whether they are in a bad mood.  That is why it is imperative to REMAIN CALM–no matter how rattled, scared or nervous you are– remain calm and be respectful! I have NEVER had a client be rude and dismissive to Officers and get any breaks.  In fact, it makes it much more difficult to protect my client—or get a great offer from the prosecutor if a client is rude to an Officer.  Remember, these days EVERYTHING Is recorded, it is in your best interest to be professional and polite.  You always get more with sugar…especially if you had been drinking before you are behind the wheel. …not to mention Juries and prosecutors are much more sympathetic to polite clients.

***Remember:  It is never in your best interest to be rude to the officer.   As I always say, NEVER let them see aggression.

Be Polite, but OFFICERS ARE NOT NOT NOT your Friends—SO Don’t TALK TOO MUCH!

My 40 year old client changed his life…from a drug addicted young man, to a corporate executive.  The problem is he disclosed so much to Officers who pulled him over, including exactly the 6 types of mixed drinks he had consumed at his corporate Christmas Party, and the exact time he started driving, that he made it almost impossible for me to fight his case in Court.

First, unfortunately, officers are not neutral.  They pulled you over because they believe you violated a law.  So it is best to say as little as possible.

Example:  “Sir, how much have you been drinking.”

Wrong Answer:  “just a couple beers, Officer”

This is a big mistake that makes my job as your attorney more difficult. Do NOT admit to anything.

There are really only THREE things you are required to say and give to the Officers:

driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.

Beyond that, you can politely decline to answer any additional questions and let them know that you need to talk to your lawyer first.

PLEASE NOTE:  YES, the police will STILL likely arrest you if you are uncooperative with their questioning. BUT—answering with specifics when YOU KNOW YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DRIVING will make your case very difficult to fight.

The Officers have a lot of tools to show the Court you were under the influence—like the odor of alcohol on your person or breathe, watery/bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, bad balance, bad driving…etc.  So don’t make it easier for them to prove their case!

YOU CAN SAY NO to a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) Test

Charlie felt he had to take the PAS when he was pulled over, if he had known the test was voluntary, the chemical test administered later at the police station would have shown that at the time of driving, his blood alcohol content could have been below the legal limit..

 If you are on probation for DUI or under the age of 21—make sure you comply with all tests to avoid jail and extensive suspension.  But if this is not you– you are not required to submit to a PAS test—this test is usually given at the scene and is quite unreliable—hence why it is voluntary.   I always say—DO NOT TAKE THIS TEST—unless you are SOBER!!!!  If you take the test, and test high, again, this can become a huge obstacle in successfully fighting your arrest.

Say NO to Field Sobriety Tests—You CANNOT PASS THESE TESTS!

 Sara knew she was unable to complete physical tests, but she did them anyway, using the Officer’s broad shoulders to support her weight while trying to walk a straight line…

 These tests are PURLEY physical tests that police officers use to help determine if you are intoxicated—and in the 1000 DUIS I have represented, and Officer has never said my client passed.  You have inevitably seen these tests on television—Cops make you walk a straight line (whether you are in heels), stand on one leg, make you count backwards, or analyze your eyes ability to follow their finger. These tests are NEVER administered objectively, remember, they pulled you over thinking you are drunk—they are going to fail you—

So be cool, calm and collected and politely refuse.  In trial, I am left with far more defenses when I am not dealing with poorly performed tests!

DO DO the CHEMICAL TEST to avoid massive suspensions of your license

The one test you are required to submit to under California’s “implied consent” law is a chemical test that is administered after arrest—usually at the police station or a blood test conducted at a hospital if you have been injured. If you refuse the chemical tests—you can face jail time, a lengthy suspension of your license, more fines and a longer DUI program.

Not worth those consequences—not to mention if you do refuse, prosecutors assume you are guilty.

So how can I argue you were not under the influence if you follow my advice?

Sickness, fatigue, stomach illnesses, being distracted, amongst a variety of defenses including fighting the accuracy of the tests given and the Officer’s training are among some of the excuses I have used to win countless DUI charges.  The most important thing you should do, is call a qualified and experienced DUI attorney as soon as you are released from jail—so you can immediately feel protected and educated as to your next steps…

And remember, MOST IMPORTANTLY, never drive while under the influence, get a ride!  It will always be cheaper and safer than getting arrested or worse, hurting someone.