You’re driving along and you notice bright, flashing red-and-blue lights in your rearview mirror. This may be your first experience with a traffic stop. It may even be your first run-in with the police.
Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, a traffic stop can be nerve-racking. As soon as you notice the emergency lights, safely pull over to the side of the road. If you cannot immediately find a safe place to pull over, turn on your hazard lights to alert the police you are complying.
Once you are safely stopped, remain calm, keep your hands on the steering wheel, and roll your window down. The officer will then ask for three items:
- Driver’s License;
- Vehicle Registration; and
- Proof of Insurance.
You must give these to the officer.
A Police Officer Asked If I’ve Been Drinking. What Should I Say?
You may believe that being honest and friendly with a police officer will fast-track you to just a warning and back on your merry way. While lying to the police is never the answer, you should note that the police are always looking for probable cause to arrest.
The unfortunate truth is that being cooperative and truthful doesn’t result in you catching a break. The very basis of our judicial system stands on these words: any information given to law enforcement can and will be used against you in a court of law. So, how do you avoid being unfairly accused?
The officer may attempt to provoke you into admitting guilt. The police are investigating you to find probable cause for an arrest. Instead of asking if you’ve been drinking, the police may ask: “How many drinks have you had tonight?” If you reply with a number, you’ve just given the police a reason to further investigate you. While lying to a police officer is not advised, you may say that you do not wish to answer any questions
The officer may ask that you perform a field sobriety test. You do not have to lawfully partake in it. However, refusing the field-sobriety test may allow the prosecutor to argue “consciousness of guilt.” This is when the prosecutor argues that you refused to participate because you knew you would fail. This argument is somewhat controversial in the legal world; however, most courts uphold this argument.
It is important to note that it is not criminally or civilly punishable for refusing to take a field sobriety test. This does not mean that the officer will go away after your refusal; the officer may then attempt to administer the preliminary breath test —which is civilly punishable for refusing.
Call our DUI defense attorney for help if you have been charged with drunk driving.