DUI Traffic Stops: How to Conduct Yourself
An Easy Drive-Through Technique?
Some of you may have read about the lawyer who advertises that it’s possible to maneuver your way through a DUI traffic stop without any personal interaction with law enforcement. He endorses putting requested papers in a plastic bag and either holding them against the inside of the driver’s window (for the officers to read) or handing them out a slightly cracked window for the officers to see and peruse. Supposedly officers then just wave on the driver without any further conversation.
A nifty story, but one I would never recommend people do.
Forget the drive-through gimmick and instead be prepared to interact reasonably with law enforcement. Always keep your current registration and insurance card in an easily accessible place.
Pull Over to a Safe Spot
When you see the swirling lights in your rear-view mirror, don’t panic. Simply pull over to a safe parking spot and turn off your engine. If it’s night-time, turn on your dome light.
Roll Your Window All The Way Down
Rolling it down a crack, or even halfway, might look suspicious, whereas rolling it down completely indicates you have nothing to hide.
Put Our Your Cigarette
Better to extinguish your cigarette than to hold it in your hand as it could be viewed as a weapon.
Place Your Hands on the Steering Wheel
Place them slowly toward the top of the steering wheel where they can be clearly seen. This reassures the officer of his safety, and it also indicates your cooperation.
Don’t Get Chatty
Sometimes people get nervous and start talking excessively during a traffic stop. Keep in mind that anything you say can be used against you. Don’t offer information about that “one beer” you had with your buddies as that gives the officer a reason to further his/her investigation. Let the officer decide whether or not to pursue an investigation based on your driving and your behavior after the stop.
“Have You Been Drinking?”
If the officer asks if you’ve been drinking, you do not need to provide an answer. Instead, politely inquire if the officer would like to see your license or registration. Or you might say, again politely, “I have nothing to say on that.”
Be Courteous at All Times
This is not the time to get defensive or confrontational, nor should anyone else in the vehicle. Remember when Reese Witherspoon, a passenger, decided to get lippy with the police officers who’d pulled over the vehicle her husband was driving? They arrested him and her.
“Please Perform Some Roadside Tests.”
The office may ask you to exit your vehicle, which is permissible. Slowly get out of your car, make no sudden movements, and remain outside until the officer says you may return to your vehicle. This applies to passengers as well.
But if the officer asks you to perform physical roadside tests, such as walking a straight line, you have the right to politely decline. However most states require you to take a chemical test, and there are penalties if you do not, such as revocation of your driver’s license.
“May I Search Your Car?”
If an officer asks permission to search your vehicle, it is your right to decline the search. However, if the officer has probable cause for searching your vehicle, such as seeing an empty bottle of whisky lying on the backseat, then he/she has the right to search your vehicle.
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