What to Do If You Get Pulled Over Part 3: Conversation with the Police
I will begin this post as I will begin many others; please don't drink and drive. It's stupid and REALLY expensive if you get caught, not to mention you might kill someone. DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE. That being said, here's some tips on what you can do if you get pulled over and the officer could suspect you of drinking.
Once the police officer is at your window, he will likely have some questions for you. Here is the best way to proceed through this conversation without going to jail.
1. Don't be rude. Chances are, the officer is not having a good night; they rarely are. While you may think that acting indignant at even the thought of being pulled over can only prove your innocence, there is no "suspect was indignant" checkbox for the officer to fill out. Instead, the rudeness you show the officer will likely come back to you several fold. What might have just been a speeding ticket has now turned into a full investigation of where you've been, who you've been with, where you're going, if you are doing (or transporting) anything illegal.
2. Don't be too nice either. As mentioned here, you don't want to be too nice. Giving the officer permission to search your car is not a sign of your innocence and will not be used that way. Instead, it is used as just that, permission to search your car. Offering to blow into a portable breath testing (PBT) device is not an attempt to show your innocence and good will, it is just the collection of evidence.
3. Don't answer the question "Have you had anything to drink tonight" unless the answer is "No." Once again, back to the DUI checklist, there is a little box that says "Suspect admits to drinking alcohol". By answering anything other than "no" you are giving the officer more probable cause to continue the investigation, and less room for your attorney to maneuver. The most common answer to this question is "I've had one or two beers". WRONG! Note, this is not what gets logged, its just a check next to the box that says "suspect admits to drinking alcohol".
4. Don't smoke once you get pulled over. No one likes getting smoke blown in their face, and you really want this officer to like you. Furthermore, courts have held that people use cigarettes to mask the smells of alcohol or narcotics, so by lighting up, you just gave the officer one more box to check in the probable cause column. The other thing to think about here, and in all stages of the investigation, is that you are probably on camera. Dashboard cameras have become the norm in jurisdictions around the country and can help you as well as hurt you. The anti-smoker bias is at an all-time high right now, and do you really want the jury who will see that video of you smoking to have one more reason to not like or trust you? In some jurors minds, being guilty of one thing means you are guilty of all things. Don't make that one thing being guilty of being a smoker.
5. Don't say more than you need to. Does "anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law" sound familiar? It's not just something said on tv, this is part of you Miranda warning. The thing is, anything you say prior to hearing these warnings can and will be used against you as well. Trying to explain why your speech is slurred only leads to more audio of your slurred speech on the video that the jury will see. Many people try to talk their way out of trouble, but in reality are just digging the hole deeper for themselves.
If you have been arrested and/or charged with a DUI/DWI in Branson, Nixa, Ozark, Springfield, Greene County, Chrisitan County, Taney County, Stone County, or anywhere in the surrounding area of Southwest Missouri, please schedule a free consulation today by calling (417) 334-6316 or by clicking "Contact Us" above.