Being booked for a DUI offense is serious and one should be carefully committed to avoiding the consequences of steep penalties and fines including the risk of incarceration. This is what any needs to do, the moment he is confronted by law enforcement authorities over a DUI booking.
The moment you get the signal from the highway patrol to pull over, slow down the vehicle and navigate it safely to the pavement usually on the right side in a slow and steady action that doesn’t inconvenience the ongoing traffic or pose any hurdle to commuters.
Turn off the engine and remain in the car with your hands resting on the steering in plain sight of the approaching cop. If it is night time ensure to turn on the car interior lights to increase your visibility to the cops. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to get out of the car till the officer reaches you. Avoid fidgeting or unnecessary movements that may alarm the officer provoking punitive action. Officers are frequently keying into APBs regarding stolen vehicles and wanted criminals and it doesn’t pay to provoke a cop into harsh countermeasures when he hasn’t confirmed your identity. Your attitude should be one of civility, courtesy and cooperation till your identity is verified.
Assume the proper seating position, leaning back in your seat (not hunched over) keeping your hands visibly resting on the steering, as that is the correct way to await the officer’s arrival. Any other movement could raise suspicions that you are attempting to conceal an item or you may be in the process of disposing incriminating evidence or hiding a weapon in your possession. Suspicious movements may alert the officer to order you to come out of the car. This can end badly, as you could be frisked roughly and the front seat visually scanned for hidden objects. If you have a bottle in the car this will be a tense moment.
This is that rare moment when you cannot afford to be distracted or put off by the officer’s questions. You need to pay close attention to the questions being asked of you and to respond clearly and cogently to instructions you may be receiving. Never assume everything is OK and that you are free to drive away unless and until the officer says you are cleared to drive away. Most DUI situations, if handled tactfully, at this stage result in your being able to drive away in comfort within minutes.
Advise your co-passengers to stay silent and to stop talking while you address the police officer. You have to measure your words very carefully because whatever you say can and will be used as evidence against you. Being frugal in your speech is of paramount importance. Don’t mouth off more than you can justify, reply in short sentences and make sure your reply is relevant to what is being asked of you. Avoid loose talk or bombastic language and don’t pull your rank or position on this officer. You could regret it at leisure. If you have been drinking, the fact that you are returning from a bar cannot and should not be divulged.
These days’ police cars are fitted with advanced video surveillance systems that record every traffic stop and action. Even then the police officers are trained to observe behavioral quirks and they can spot a delinquent a mile away. So be sure to be on your best behavior, just like you were attending Sunday school. Your gaze should be steady, hands calmly resting on the steering as you turn your head to address the officer without making jerky or alarming movements.
This appears to be a very simple and routine question but with devastating consequences if you answer in a fashion that incriminates you for DUI. The normal reaction of drinkers is to come clean and to spill the fact that they were just returning from a party or get-together and mean no harm. This could be your biggest mistake because any self-admission or confessional statement would only serve to shift the onus of proceedings against you in court hearings. The best course of action is resorting to silence backed by polite non aggressive behavior. The worst the officer can do is to ask you to step out of the car to perform Field Sobriety Tests. Every word unspoken is a major plus point for the defense attorney in combating DUI charges. Besides, even drunk passengers may get through FSTs with élan if they maintain their composure.
When nothing is forthcoming from you through questioning, the officer might decide to subject you to a breathalyzer test or BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration test) followed by FSTs (Field Sobriety Tests). There is no point refusing a BAC because having a driving license is tantamount to your giving implied consent for such testing when you face a potential DUI situation. Weigh your options carefully. If you feel your alcohol intake has exceeded normal parameters you may be better advised to refuse the BAC and be taken to the police station for further action because that buys your system time to normalize. If you are lightly intoxicated the BAC may prove to be in you favor. In any case it is wise to know that refusing a BAC can spiral the seriousness of the crime to levels that attract stiffer penalties including jail time.
Do not under any circumstances volunteer for a test of your own volition:
In many states some tests are not mandatory and you have the right to refuse such tests like the one leg stand or the slow walk and turn. Ask the officer if the test is mandatory and refuse them if they are not compulsory. After all, there is no point in strengthening the hands of law enforcement in recording damaging evidence that can be used against you in court.
There could be observable drawbacks in the way the officer is conducting himself or the technicality of the tests you are asked to undergo. In all such cases it is the safest course to demand that you be connected to a superior officer and failing that you be taken to the police station.
The DUI offense can land you in deeper waters than you think, and much depends on the manner in which you react and respond to questioning when you are pulled over for checking. People who keep their composure and respond with level headedness and calm will breeze through most situations with their honor intact.