If a police officer has found a reason to pull you over, and you have had a drink, here is the ideal situation to put yourself in for a traffic stop.
Your registration and insurance cards are in accessible locations; your license is readily available. Your dome light is on, and both of your hands are on the wheel, so that the officer feels safer and more at ease, and your window is open before he approaches it. If there are any odors that you would rather the officer does not detect, your passenger window is open as well. If possible, you have pulled into a legal parking spot.
The officer begins questioning you. “Where are you coming from? Where are you going? How many drinks have you had tonight? Do I smell something on your breath?” What do you do? Be respectful, but decline to answer any and all questions that you think may even have a chance of being incriminating or that may give the officer more probable cause to submit you to chemical testing and a charge of DWI. This includes “Where are you coming from”. Why? If you are coming from a bar, or a wedding, or a football game, these all have implications that you may have been drinking, and every question and answer from the moment the cop pulls you over will be part of the case the officer is building against you. If you lie about where you were coming from, this will also be noted in the case against you. There is little to gain by answering these questions. This includes answering “Have you had any drinks tonight” or “Have you been drinking”. Don’t say “1”, don’t say “none”, or “no”, just don’t answer. Instead, answer his question with a question, such as “Do you need any other documents?” or “Why do you ask?” or even “Am I being charged with anything, or am I free to go?” Without walking into his trap, and giving him the information he needs to submit you to a chemical test, he must base his case solely on his observations of you during the traffic stop and of your driving prior to pulling you over.
However, keep in mind he is also studying your motor skills, your eye movement, and looking for any symptoms of intoxication (disheveled appearance, slow or slurred speech, etc.). He may also have an alcohol sensor built into his flashlight. It is likely he will tell you to step out of the vehicle, and ask you to perform field sobriety tests. He will quite likely phrase it in a sentence that is actually a question, making it sound like a command. You DO NOT have to and SHOULD NOT take the field sobriety test.
At this point, you should prepare for the officer to do everything in his power to get you to answer his questions and to take the field sobriety test. He may bully you, he may yell at you, and he will most definitely lie and make false promises to you. He will do anything to further his investigation, and if you evade his tricks, he may only get angrier. But just think to yourself, if he gets frustrated with you, it is because you are probably winning. In order to make this easier for yourself and on yourself, say as little as possible. Give him nothing to work with.
It has been held up in court that the officer is allowed to order you out of your vehicle. Make sure if you are stepping out of the vehicle, that it is an order, and not a request. He may put an order in the form of a question, such as, “I’m going to have to ask you to get out of the car” or “Will you step out of the car, please”. Notice that these are actually in the form of a question, and, if this is the case, ask him if he is ordering you out of the car. Stay inside unless it is an order. Inevitably, he will tell you to get out of the car. If he didn’t have a just reason to order you out of the car, that will surface later in your case. You may even want to roll your windows up and lock your doors before you exit your vehicle, so that he can’t look inside your car or claim that he smelled something after you left the car.
At this point he will ask you to perform actions, like touching your finger to your nose, that are actually part of the field sobriety test. It is quite likely he will not tell you that this is a field sobriety test. Notice that these requests are also questions disguised as orders. Refuse to perform them. “I do not consent to any such tests” or “I am uncomfortable performing a field sobriety test without first speaking to my lawyer”, or simply “No, and I would like to invoke my right to remain silent until I speak with my lawyer,” are all good answers. Remember, he may try and bully or trick you into them. Stand firm.
At this point, whether he has sufficient evidence or not, it is likely he will arrest you. Don’t panic. You are doing great so far. Hopefully you have given him little or no evidence to charge you with DWI, and if so, the likelihood that the charge sticks decreases drastically.
If you have been arrested, you will be taken to the station for a chemical test. Should you refuse it? Quite possibly.
Just remember, no matter what you do, never answer questions about the consumption of alcohol!
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the potential penalties you face, Karl Myles is not only very experienced in DWI law, he is an expert on putting you at ease and counseling you on what may come ahead. Karl Myles will shoulder the burden of your case. He will meet with you night or day, at your home or your jail cell to fight your charges. Call (716) 812-2228 now for immediate assistance.