Why You Should Just Say No When Stopped for a DUI
When you glance in the rearview mirror and see flashing lights after a night of watching the Steelers or Eagles game at a local bar, you may experience an overwhelming sense of dread. A conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) in Reading can threaten your freedom, bank account and job. The anxiety that many feel when they are pulled over for DUI motivates them to cooperate with the police officer that initiated the stop. Unfortunately, the evidence that arises out of such an encounter frequently becomes the very proof used to by the prosecutor to pursue a DUI criminal case.
Why silence is golden during a DUI stop
Although most people have a vague notion of their constitutional right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment, the urge to talk to an armed police officer with the power of arrest can be compelling. When you are stopped and investigated for DUI, the officer will attempt to engage you in a conversation. Because of the fear created by the situation, drivers often volunteer incriminating statements that provide probable cause for an arrest.
While you are required to provide your driver’s license and insurance information if you are subject to a lawful stop, you should not answer other questions like the following:
- How much have you had to drink tonight?
- Are you coming from a bar or restaurant?
- Have you had anything to drink?
If you are asked such questions, you should simply indicate that you are not comfortable answering any questions without speaking to an attorney and ask if you are free to leave.
Avoiding the field sobriety test trap
The police officer also asks you to perform field sobriety tests (FSTs). Many people consent because they believe that they have no other choice or that successful completion of these unnatural physical exercises will somehow lead to their release. Typically, the officer has already decided to arrest you for DUI once you are asked to perform FSTs.
The purpose of having you engage in these physical acts of dexterity is to gather information that will be used to justify your DUI arrest and to provide evidence in a criminal DUI case. Given that the officer has already made up his mind that you are intoxicated, you will typically make matters worse if you submit to FSTs. One way to decline is simply to ask if the tests are completely accurate. The officer will not be able to confirm that they are completely accurate, which provides justification for declining the FSTs.
People in Reading and throughout Berks County are arrested on a daily basis for DUI. The panic you feel when being pulled over is experienced by many others in the same predicament. The best way to avoid a DUI conviction is to take a deep breath and recognize that you can just say no!