If you are pulled over and suspected of being under the influence, the following is a step-by-step guide to help keep your situation from getting any worse. For more information or to discuss your case, call and schedule a consultation with a Norfolk DUI attorney today.
If you see emergency lights in your rearview mirror, you should begin looking for a safe place to pull over as soon as possible. You should put your hazard lights on if there is not a safe place to pull over right away so that the officer knows that you have seen him and are looking for a place to pull over.
If you are pulled over at night, then a place that would have been safe to pull over during the day may be a little more questionable at night. So it is okay to take a little longer to pull over as long as you are just looking for somewhere safe. The best thing to do is to turn your hazards on to let the officer know that you see him and are looking for a place to pull over. A good spot at night is generally somewhere that is well-lit or more populated so that you are safer.
Once you are pulled over during the day, you should roll down your window enough to pass documents and to be able to communicate with the officer. If you’re being pulled over for a DUI, you need to be really careful to not say anything that’s going to get you in more trouble. It is important to remember that what the officer is looking for is any type of probable cause to arrest you for a DUI.
If you have an open container, smell like alcohol, or if you’re slurring and incoherent, then all of these things will be considered as probable cause for a DUI arrest.
You should refrain from making any sudden movements that may alarm the officer. If he asks you for your registration and a license, then at this point it is kind of implied that you have to reach for it. But the best thing to do is to slowly reach for the glove box so that you do not make the officer mistakenly believe that you are reaching for a weapon or for anything dangerous.
You should not turn your car off unless the officer instructs you to do so.
When the officer approaches your vehicle you should expect him to ask you a handful of questions. Generally, they will ask you if you know why you are pulled over or where were you going or just general questions trying to get a feel for what kind of situation they are really looking at. The most common questions that you will always get are a request for your license and your registration. Other questions will depend very highly on what is going on in that particular instance.
Your hand should be on the steering wheel when the officer approaches the vehicle. You need to remember that the officer is going to be concerned for his own safety as well as executing the stop quickly, so you do not want to do anything that will cause him or her to be suspicious of you in any way. Keeping your hands where the officer can see them is the best way to do this.
You don’t have to answer any questions that aren’t related to just background information questions such as your name and registration and things like that. Anything that’s related to the stop itself is not a requirement to be answered.
So if the officer is asking how much you’ve had to drink, or why were you driving like that, the best thing to do is to not answer those questions and be very careful to not make any admissions that are going to get you in trouble later.
At this point, the officer generally will take this information to his or her vehicle and will run you through the system and search for any open warrants. He or she then will decide whether to arrest you or not and will come back and return your documents to you.
If you are pulled over by an unmarked vehicle and the officer is in plain clothes, then you should call the non-emergency police number to verify that the person in front of you is actually a legitimate police officer. You can ask to see a badge but the problem with that is that a lot of people do not know what distinguishes a fake police badge from a legitimate one. The best thing to do in these circumstances is to call dispatch, who will then verify whether the officer is legitimate or not and if they are not they will immediately send a real officer to the scene.
The biggest mistakes to avoid during a traffic stop are to provide any type of incriminating evidence which can later be used against you. You do not want to make any excuses for whatever it is that you are being pulled over for and you do not want to admit or deny anything. The risk with doing any of these things is that you will put your own nail in your own coffin for your defense and in court later on it will be much more difficult for you to get a good result because of what happened at the stop.
Another mistake to avoid is upsetting the officer in any way. You don’t want to anger him or make his job harder than it has to be. The officer in court is going to report to the judge whether you were polite and cooperative during the incident. It’s always better for someone to have been polite and cooperative than for someone to have created a scene and made the stop more difficult.
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