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What to Do: Pulled Over for a Suspected DUI

Jun 19, 2008
You've had a few drinks and amazingly just when you were hoping it wouldn't happen, you get that feeling in the bottom of your stomach when you look behind you and see flashing red and blue lights. All is not lost, stay calm and focused, you can get out of this situation unharmed if you just keep your head.

As long as you're calm, you're in a much better situation. First off, pull over out of the way of traffic. Turn the car off, and get your license and registration ready. Stay in the car, do NOT get out. That's a good recipe for ending up with guns trained on you, and you face first in the asphalt.

Most importantly, though, act respectfully; do not give the officer a reason to arrest you. Shouting belligerently to an officer will turn a suspected DUI into an arrest, so it's in your best interest to remain calm and courteous.

The officer now asks the dreaded question: Have you been drinking tonight? You do not have to answer this. It is fully within your rights to plead the Fifth Amendment so as not to incriminate yourself. This refusal to speak cannot be held against you as evidence in court.

On the flip side, being honest isn't always the best policy. Not that we would recommend that you think in your head, No Officer I haven't been drinking fruitpunch in the last 12 hours, while you answer no. It's just best that for the most part you answer as little as possible.

What many people don't know is that the field sobriety tests, following a penlight, walking a straight line, standing on one leg can be legally refused as well. You do not have to submit to these tests, they are usually not standardized or reliable, and training is kind of hit or miss.

However, in many states there are Implied Consent Laws which means you agree to taking chemical tests, blood, urine or breath tests to test for impairment. These of course are much more accurate than the field sobriety tests, you should check your state laws to see if you are required to take these tests upon request. In many states, refusal to take the test will result in an automatic suspension of your driver's license.

If the test turns out positive, it is still worth it to remain calm and courteous. As long as you cooperate you are in a much better position to be given some leniency. Becoming hostile or arguing are pretty much a guarantee that you'll be charged to the full extent. If you consult with an experienced attorney to represent you, you have the greatest chances to come out of this experience with as little harm as possible.
About the Author
A DUI doesn't have to be the end of the world. Get competetent legal representation. Lee Lockett is a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney specializing in Jacksonville DUI Defense.
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