What Should You Do – and Not Do – if You’re Pulled Over for DWI

Being stopped by police on possible suspicion of drunk driving can be a harrowing experience. If this happens to you, your actions can make a big difference in how the police investigation proceeds and what charges might eventually be filed.

If you see the flashing lights of a police car behind you signaling you to stop, do not speed or otherwise try to elude the police. Instead, drive slowly and carefully until you can safely stop your vehicle in a place where you won’t hinder traffic or cause an accident.

Once you’re stopped, you should find your driver’s license, vehicle registration and insurance card, so you’re ready to hand them over as soon as the officer comes to your window. When speaking with the officer, be polite and respectful. Do not make any erratic movements that the officer might interpret as indicating you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Do not admit to drinking or taking drugs. You should respectfully decline to answer any questions about your driving or other actions you took that day, or whether you know why you were pulled over. Let the police officer do the talking.

If you are asked to take a field sobriety test or to blow into a breathalyzer, you’re under no obligation to do so unless you’re already under arrest. If you consent to a test, the officer can use positive test results as evidence of your intoxication, which will give the officer probable cause to arrest you. Instead, insist on your right to call a lawyer on your cell phone.

Refusing to take a field sobriety or breathalyzer test may be grounds to suspend your driver’s license, but taking the test may expose you to criminal consequences. As a general rule, if you’ve had more than one drink within the two hours prior to the stop, you might have a high enough blood alcohol content (BAC) to be charged with at least DWAI (driving while ability impaired). Higher BAC levels can lead to charges of DWI (driving while intoxicated). In those circumstances, you might be better off temporarily losing your license than risking jail time.

If you are charged with DWI or DWAI, you’ll need a seasoned DWI defense attorney to represent you. Your attorney can challenge the legality of the traffic stop, the probable cause for your arrest and the procedural correctness of any tests given.

The Law Office of Maurice J. Verrillo, P.C. of Rochester has wide experience providing strong defenses for New York drivers facing DWI or DWAI charges. Please call us at 585-563-1134 or contact us online for a free consultation.


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