Pulled Over After Drinking? Here’s What to Do
Driving home late at night, you see the flashing lights of a Maryland State Police car in your rearview mirror. You are being pulled over on suspicion of drinking and driving.
The first instinct might be to panic, but knowing how to protect yourself can help ease the stress.
What should you do when faced with a potential driving under the influence (DUI) charge?
1. Remain Calm
Find a safe place to pull off the road. Use your turn signal and pull over slowly – police begin their observation for DUI immediately.
How you pull over can impact their perception and how they proceed. Any sudden movements, erratic driving, or quick braking will be noted as a sign of intoxication.
Stay in your car and do not make any sudden movements. Police are trained to approach cars from behind, cautiously, keeping the driver in view at all times. Do not look for documents and never take your hands off the wheel.
2. Be Polite
When the police officer approaches your window, greet him or her courteously. Do not act nervous or as if you are guilty of something. Be polite and follow directions. When asked, give the officer your license, registration, and proof of insurance. Remember they are still observing you and how you perform these tasks.
If you can have your license and registration out before the officer reaches your car and in your hand, then the officer will not be able to see if you have had trouble retrieving those documents. If getting those documents requires you to reach across the seat to your glove compartment or to reach down for a purse or wallet, then wait until the officer approaches. You do not want your movements in the car before the officer approaches to be misinterpreted.
It is also possible you will be recorded on video. Many police cars have dashboard mounted cameras, and the officers wear microphones. This video could be used in court, and how you behave toward the officer can impact the outcome of your case.
3. Answer Required Questions Only
When pulled over on suspicion of DUI, the only information you are required to give is your name, proof of insurance, and driver’s license. You have the right to invoke your Fifth Amendment rights to not answer questions that might incriminate yourself. You do not have to answer questions like, “Have you been drinking?” or “What were you doing tonight?”
Do not discuss where you were, what you were doing, or who you were with. If asked these questions, simply respond, “I am invoking my Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.” Additionally, do not lie. Refusing to answer the question is a much better alternative to not telling the truth.
4. Refuse Field Sobriety Tests
A field sobriety test is different than a breathalyzer or other chemical test. These tests involve actions like walking heel-to-toe or touching your finger to your nose. These tests are meant to test balance and coordination, and many people cannot pass them even when they are sober. The results are subjective and easy to manipulate; it is best to refuse to take them. Remember to do so politely.
5. Tests You Should Not Refuse
Almost all states have implied consent laws. When you obtain a driver’s license, you consent to chemical testing of your breath, blood, or urine by a police officer. Refusing to take a breathalyzer or other chemical sobriety test will result in immediate consequences, such as automatically losing your license. Implied consent laws also state a chemical test refusal can be used against you in court.
Remember that failing a chemical test does not mean you will be convicted on a DUI charge. Hiring a competent Baltimore DUI attorney can help you through the process.
6. Write Down Any Relevant Information
Winning a DUI case in Baltimore comes down to the details. As the defendant, it is going to be your job to make sure everything is recorded. The effectiveness of your DUI lawyer hinges on an accurate portrayal of the arrest. Make sure you write down the arrest location, time, and the reason the police officer pulled you over.
Be sure to write down any questions you remember the officer asking, whether or not a sobriety or breathalyzer test was administered, and any other details you deem important.
Write up the details in a report and give it to your lawyer exclusively. Your lawyer will be your shield, and all information should go through him or her. If your DUI defense attorney feels that any pertinent information should be shared with the prosecution or a third party, you will be notified.
If someone was riding in the car with you, ask for their assistance. They can be a witness on your behalf. They may also help you accurately notate the events of the stop.
7. Understand the Gravity of Your Situation
The consequences for a DUI conviction can be dire. In Maryland, even first time offenders may face jail time, depending on the jurisdiction, and fines of up to $1,000. This is why contacting a DUI lawyer in Baltimore should be your first priority if you are charged for DUI.
If you are a repeat offender, you might lose your license for up to a year and a half, face $3,000 in fines, and serve a jail sentence of three years. It’s imperative that you contact an attorney right away.
When looking for a DUI attorney, contact one with experience handling DUIs in your area. Since laws vary from state to state and DUI cases can be difficult to win, only an experienced lawyer will do.
Contact DUI Attorney Dilip Paliath
Dilip Paliath is one of the top DUI lawyers in Baltimore. He has the experience to navigate the courts, to defend against DUI charges, and is focused on protecting his clients. Dilip will expertly handle your case, openly communicating and presenting you with all of your options while protecting your rights.