What to do When Pulled Over for DUI in New York
Police officers need probable cause to arrest you and force you to take a chemical test of your blood alcohol content (BAC), such as a breathalyzer. They develop this probable cause by observing your driving as well as your personal appearance and behavior after you are pulled over. How you handle yourself during a traffic stop can be critical to whether you are arrested or not, and how strong the prosecution’s case will be at your trial.
Below are some common sense suggestions about what to do when pulled over for DUI in Long Island or elsewhere in the New York metro. If you follow these tips, know your rights, and call 888-DUI-LAWYER after any Long Island DUI arrest, your attorney will be in the best position to obtain a positive outcome in your DUI case.
Pull over promptly and safely. The police begin observing you even before they pull you over. As soon as they signal you to stop, they will be observing you and your vehicle. Do not take too long to pull over, but instead stop as soon as you can safely do so. If the road has a shoulder, pull over straightly and completely on to the shoulder. Otherwise, pull over into the rightmost lane. Of course, if the officer is directing you where to pull over, try to follow those instructions.
Prepare for the officer’s approach to your vehicle. Put down your driver’s side window to get some fresh air in the car and so the officer can talk to you. Retrieve your license and registration before the officer approaches so you will appear efficient and alert, and the officer won’t see you fumbling around to retrieve hard-to-find documents, which can make you look impaired. Turn on your interior lights/dome light and place your hands on the steering wheel. This makes it easier for the police to see you and makes them more comfortable to see your hands in plain sight.
Be polite and respectful, but brief with your answers. You are already a suspect when you are pulled over, but the police may not have cause to arrest you at this point. Everything you say or do during the stop, or don’t say and do, is being evaluated by the police to determine whether they have cause to arrest you or not. Being belligerent, argumentative or sarcastic will not score you any points, but being polite and respectful will. You don’t have to be overly friendly or chatty though, and generally the less you say the better. Beyond providing basic information regarding your identity and providing your license and registration, you don’t have to answer any questions such as, “where are you coming from?” or “have you had anything to drink tonight?” You are within your rights to offer a polite but firm refusal such as, “I prefer not to answer that.”
Get out of the car if asked to. The police will often ask you to step out of the vehicle. Courts have upheld the authority of the police to order you out of the car for their own safety. They can also conduct a quick pat down of your outer clothing.
Take or decline field sobriety tests. Once you are out of the vehicle, the officer may direct you to perform any number of roadside tests. You are actually under no obligation to perform these tests, and most often they are designed to give the officer cause to arrest you. You can politely but firmly refuse to take these tests without any penalty, although your refusal can be used against you if you are arrested.
Take or decline a chemical test. If you are in fact arrested, you will be required to take a chemical test of your blood, breath or urine. Most often the test is a breathalyzer given at the station, although you can request a blood or urine test instead. You should be informed that you are required to take the test and what the consequences of your refusal are, which in most cases is a one-year suspension of your driver’s license.
Decline a request to search your car. A common part of a traffic stop is for police to ask to search your vehicle. There are various grounds under which the police may search your vehicle without a warrant. If these grounds are present, the police can search your vehicle without your permission. If they are asking your consent to search, that means these grounds do not exist, and they cannot search your car unless you let them. Don’t worry that refusing consent will make you look suspicious. It is your constitutional right to withhold such consent, and remember, you are already a suspect or you wouldn’t be pulled over.
Don’t argue or resist. You may well believe that the initial stop was improper, or that the police are not treating you fairly. Now is not the time to argue with the police or actively resist them. Such behavior may only give the police further grounds to arrest you or charge you with other offenses. Instead, describe the incident fully to your attorney. If any irregularities occurred during the stop, a skilled and aggressive lawyer will use these facts to get the case against you dismissed or have evidence suppressed.
What to do When Pulled Over for DUI in New York? Speak to a DUI Attorney at 888-DUI-LAWYER
If you have been arrested for DWI in Long Island, call 888-DUI-LAWYER for a free consultation on your case with a team of experienced and dedicated Long Island DUI defense attorneys.