Friday, April 1, 2011
Top 5 Things To Do When Stopped by the Cops - DWI Edition
I've done it - and maybe you have too. You're out with friends or family and you have a couple of drinks with dinner. Not feeling "drunk" - you get in your car and you drive home. The next thing you know - BAM - there are red and blue flashing lights in your rear-view mirror and soon you're being asked by the police - "Sir, how much have you had to drink this evening?"
As you may already be aware, it isn't illegal to drink alcohol and drive. But... it's natural, when encountered by the cops, to feel nervous or even to be scared when you've had some alcohol, drove and then by the police.
Knowing what to do in that situation is essential. Believe or not, how you react can go along way toward determining whether or not you'll wake up in your own bed the next morning - or - in jail.
Here are 5 tips that could help you navigate a stressful situation.
#1 - Don't Do the Cops Job For Them - Don't Talk About Your Drinking
We all have Constitutional rights - the greatest among them is the right to remain silent and the right not to incriminate ourselves. These rights exist whether or not you are under arrest and when you are in your car and an officer is asking you questions - above and beyond name name and date of birth. Don't be afraid to respectfully exercise these rights.
When the cops start asking you about where you've been, where you're going, or what you've been drinking - believe it or not their biggest concern ususally isn't about you - or your well being. What they're actually do is gather information - that they might use against you at a later time. Often, these exchanges are the beginings of a DWI investigation. Remember, you don't have to answer these questions. Offer up you identification information and then graciously zip your lip.
2. Don't Do the Cops Job For Them - The Field Sobriety Tests
Did you know, you have no obligation to participate in the roadside gymnastics/field sobriety tests that an officer might ask you to take? Sure, you're going to want to cooperate - right? It's natural to feel as though you can "impress" the officer by trying to do what he asks. But believe me, you are taking quite a risk - because if this officer decides you've failed these silly little tests, you're going to do more harm to his or her impression of you than you could have ever done good. Plus, field sobriety tests won't tell an officer (or anyone else for that matter) if you can safely drive a vehicle. Rather, all they do is give that officer much more information to use against you later to prove that your were driving drunk.
3. Don't Do the Cops Job For Them - The Roadside Breath Test (the "PBT")
The reasons for this are the same reasons as with why you should polite decline doing the field sobriety tests - you don't have to, it doesn't help you - it helps them, and they're often unreliable. Again, just say no.
The moment you're placed under arrest - you are supposed to be entitled to a Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer. Once you ask for an attorney, the police are should stop questioning you and take reasonable steps to get you get in touch with a lawyer. That's your Constitutional Rights - use it. Don't let the cops try to talk you out of it. I know this is going to be hard to understand, but asking for a lawyer does not make you look guilty. It makes you look smart. People ask for attorneys because they need expert help to deal with the police. Don't be afraid to get help.
5. Remain Calm and Treat the Police With Respect - Even if They're Rude to You
A DWI investigation is not fun - for anyone. And believe it or not, that kind officer who on another occasion helped find your dog, may not have that same disposition when it comes to investigating you for a crime.
No matter how hard it can (and will) be - you have to remain calm and hold your tongue. If you don't - your actions will be used against you later --- this I can assure you. The calmer you remain and the less you let the cops frazzle you the better your case.
The next time you are stopped and investigated for a Drunk Driving, put these five suggestions to use. You'll be glad you did. If your reading this after you've been stopped (and thinking - "where was this before I was so stupid?") don't fret. Just because you've been arrested for a DWI does not mean you will be convicted of that offense.
Be smart, now, and contact an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney to explain to you your rights and to fight for you in court.