What to do When You Are Pulled Over by the Police?

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Apprehending drunk drivers is a top priority of California police using routine traffic stops and DUI sobriety checkpoints. Being in a position to be arrested for a DUI can come suddenly and unexpectedly. Nobody wakes up in the morning thinking that today is the day you will be arrested for a DUI. It is a good idea that everyone knows in advance a little about what they should do if they are pulled over and suspected by police of DUI.

California police are required to have a reasonable suspicion that the suspect has committed a traffic violation in order to legally make a traffic stop. Running a red light or a stop sign, failing to use a turn signal, or failing to stay in the correct driving lane are just a few reasons that give police a probable cause. When pulled over a person should have their vehicle and personal identification readily available as police will ask you for your license, registration and insurance card. Do not automatically search for these documents until the police officer asks for them. Be polite and answer police questions with yes or no answers. Do not offer explanations as police questions are part of their investigation and your extended answers can only be incriminating. Do not get into an argument either. Be aware that police will ask pre-planned questions in which either choice of your answer is an admission of guilt such as “how many drinks have your had tonight?”, not “did you drink tonight”. If you answer 3 or more, the police officer may ask you to get out of your car and make an arrest on the spot based on your admission, or at least attempt to administer field sobriety tests. The answer to how many drinks you had tonight is always none.

Most likely, if the officer suspects you have been drinking he/she will ask you to get out of your car in order to have you perform field sobriety tests. You are not required to perform the tests as the results can only reinforce the case against you. In all practicality, you can not pass the test and be let go. If the officer asks you to perform the test he has probably already made up his mind to arrest you for DUI and wants to secure the case against you with further evidence.

If the police ask you if they can search your vehicle politely say no. If a police officer sees or smells alcohol marijuana or any other contraband in your vehicle they have all the probable cause they need to search your vehicle. No search warrant is necessary.

Being pulled over and suspected of DUI needn’t be a stressful situation if you know your rights and what to expect. Remember that you are under no obligation to help the police to arrest you so keep your answers short and polite.

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Guest Contributor