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What to Do if You Are Pulled Over for DUIDWI

The dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are clear, and police do an important job to keep intoxicated drivers off the streets. Still, it's important to know how to best protect your rights if you are pulled over for suspected DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated) charges.

Stay Quiet

The Fifth Amendment provides you with protection from self-incrimination. You have the right to not answer questions asked of you by a police officer. You do not have to answer how many drinks you consumed. You do not have to answer when you last consumed a drink. You are not required to answer the officer's interrogation.

You have the right to stay silent and not say a thing. It is probably prudent that you not ignore questioning, but rather state your right to refrain from answering questions. It is important to realize that if you do not participate in any questioning by providing responses, the police officer cannot testify in court against you. The officer has no content about which to testify. Your refusal to answer questions cannot be used against you because of the Fifth Amendment.

Stay in Your Car

Your interests are best served by remaining in your car, unless the officer requests that you exit the vehicle. An officer is not likely to want you to get out of the car. He or she does not know if you have weapons or if you might try to run from the scene. If the officer directs you to get out of the car and instructs you to begin to undertake sobriety tests in the field (roadside), realize that you are not mandated to do so. You do not have to complete these tests.

Field sobriety tests usually are used to check a driver's coordination and balance. They may be challenging for you even if sober. Some defense attorneys complain that the very nature of the tests sets up a driver for almost certain failure. In many jurisdictions, field sobriety tests are not required, and the refusal to complete them cannot be used against a defendant. The tests are subjective in nature and are created to equip an officer with evidence or proof of a driver's intoxication. The tests can be distorted, manipulated, and used against the defendant in court at trial.

Chemical Testing Is Mandatory

A breathalyzer is a tool used by police departments to ascertain the alcohol content of a driver's blood. Defense attorneys also call the accuracy of breathalyzers into question. The information about specific level of drunkenness can be inaccurate. All U.S. states have implied consent laws that state that when a member of the public obtains a driver's license, that party receives a privilege accompanied by responsibilities and obligations. Drivers consent to chemical testing of their blood, breath, or urine in police traffic pull-overs, as a condition of obtaining a license. A defendant cannot refuse to be chemically tested without some penalty or sanction. In many states, the penalty is automatic suspension or revocation of the driver's license. Revocation of registration or even jail can result. When a chemical test exposes that a driver's blood alcohol level is 0.08 or higher, legal intoxication standards are met, and the driver is subject to a DUI or DWI criminal arrest.