We all know how it goes: you go out with some friends for dinner, have a couple glasses of wine, hop in your car and make the drive home. 9 times out 10 you will make it home with no incident.
However, if you are pulled over by a police officer who thinks you are driving under the influence, you need to make sure you follow a few steps to avoid a DUI conviction.
1) Once you see the officer’s lights in your rearview mirror, pull to the side of the road as safely as possible.
As soon as an officer turns on his lights to pull you over, he/she will begin making observations on your driving to put into their report. It is important for you to obey all the rules of the road to avoid any negative information in the official report. By gradually decelerating, using your turn signal, and safely pulling off the road, you will limit the information the officer may use against you in your case.
2) Don’t be disrespectful to the officer, regardless of the way you are treated.
Once the officer approaches your window, it is crucial that you remain polite and respectful throughout the entire interaction. Even if the officer becomes hostile and aggressive, you should always remain calm, keeping your hands on the steering wheel, except when giving the officer your license and registration. If the officer asks you to step out of your vehicle, do so without any confrontation. All of these actions will shine a positive light on you in any police report.
3) If questioned by the officer, do not answer any incriminating questions that may be used against you in court.
Although the officer may press you with questions and use their position of authority to make you answer, it is your right to remain silent. You do not have to answer any questions beyond giving the officer your license, registration and proof of insurance. If you are concerned that any question may be an attempt to incriminate you in court, politely tell the officer that your attorney has advised you not to answer any questions until you have spoken with him.
4) If the officer asks that you take a Breathalyzer test, consider your options.
Rhode Island law does impose criminal penalties for refusing to take a Breathalyzer test; however, it might be worth risking a 6-month suspension of your driver’s license if you think you have a strong case. A Breathalyzer test may not be accurate if not used properly and it can be unsanitary if not cleaned properly. While the officer may attempt to pressure you into submitting to a Breathalyzer test with threats of an arrest, use your best judgment before giving in.
5) If you are arrested for DUI or Breathalyzer Refusal, calmly cooperate with the officer and contact an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney immediately.
An arrest and conviction for DUI can have serious, long-lasting consequences, affecting your bank account, driving privileges and employment prospects for years after your arrest. By hiring an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney you are giving yourself the best possible chance to avoid serious DUI penalties.
While you should always avoid driving for at least 12 hours after drinking any alcohol, in the instance you find yourself being questioned or arrested for driving under the influence, the suggestions listed above will provide you the best opportunity to avoid the penalties associated with a DUI conviction.