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5 Tips for if You've Been Pulled Over After Drinking

Being pulled over is frightening…especially when you know for a fact that you've had a beer or two earlier in the evening. Even if you know that you are sober, you've heard the horror stories about miscalculated breath tests and wrongful charges – and actually having alcohol in your system, no matter how small, is certainly not going to help your case. At Thomas & Paulk, we know this can be one of the most stressful situations you will ever encounter and we are here to prepare you with five easy tips to protect yourself. This should not be construed as legal advice or used as a replacement to talking to an attorney, but can be used as general tips as to how make your case as easy and successful as possible:

  1. If you see flashing lights, pull over. The absolute worst thing that you can do is to try and run from the police or otherwise disobey. By obediently pulling over at the nearest safe spot, you are already setting yourself up for success with the police officer. So as soon as you see the flashing lights in your rearview mirror, hit your turn signal and make your way to a safe shoulder away from heavy traffic.

  2. Be polite, but don't incriminate yourself. When the officer approaches your car, it is in your best interests to be polite in all dealings. Don't give attitude, act belligerent or be angry that you were pulled over. Make it clear that you intend to work with them civilly. However, one of the biggest mistakes that people will make when asked by the officer if they have been drinking is to "confess" to everything that had drank. This is one of the worst things that you can do as it gives the officer a weapon to validate field sobriety testing, breath tests and other forms of chemical testing. You are not legally required to answer questions like that. So while you should still be polite, all you need to respond with is, "I would prefer to not answer that question at this time."

  3. Do not participate in field sobriety testing. After questioning, it is likely that the officer will request that you step outside the vehicle. While you can refuse, it will likely turn into an order, so it is in your best interest to just comply. Roll up windows, step outside and shut the door behind you. The officer may then ask you to perform field sobriety tests (FSTs). While standardized by the NHTSA, these are not used in your favor – they are meant to prove intoxication, not disprove it. Therefore, it is in your best interests to politely refuse. The officer will likely warn you that failure to participate will be used against you in the court of law, but by refusing to participate you will not incur any criminal penalties (it's not against the law to refuse field sobriety testing), and you will be denying the prosecutor any further incriminating evidence against you.

  4. Do not refuse the blood, breath or urine tests if you have been arrested. If you are taken to the police station, hospital or jail, you will likely be asked to partake in more chemical testing. While you legally are able to refuse the preliminary breath test (PBT) at the scene of the arrest, should you refuse the breathalyzer at the station, you will be facing an automatic license suspension. Similar, a refusal to participate in the urine and / or blood test will result in criminal penalties.

  5. Get the involvement of an attorney. This goes without saying, but if you have been arrested, you need to get a criminal lawyer on your side to help represent your best interests. If you participated in the DUI testing and reportedly failed, if you had an allegedly high BAC or if there are aggravating circumstances, an attorney will be able to step up to fight for you. They can challenge the results of the tests, gather evidence and fight to protect you under the full extent of the law.

These above tips should not be seen as legal advice and they should not be seen as an endorsement of drinking and driving. Driving under the influence is illegal for a reason: because it's dangerous. If you are drunk, do not get behind the wheel. If, however, you are arrested for drunk driving, even if you were not intoxicated or impaired, please do not hesitate to contact our firm for legal counsel.

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Tampa DUI Defense Attorney Thomas & Paulk, P.A. Attorneys at Law