Getting pulled over for DUI can be a traumatic experience, and it can be difficult to think straight (especially if you aren't sober). What you say when you're pulled over, however, can have a big impact on whether you're convicted of DUI. If you're ever pulled over for driving under the influence, here are four key questions to ask that could help you if you're charged with DUI.
May I Remain Silent?
When cops pull people over, especially when the traffic stop is based on suspicions of drunk driving, cops often begin by asking questions. They might ask you, "Do you know why I pulled you over?," more directly, "Have you been drinking?" or any number of other questions.
Although they might expect you to answer these questions, you have a constitutional right to not incriminate yourself, per the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. As CNN iReport notes, the right to silence extends to police officer's questions during a traffic stop.
By remaining silent, you'll be limiting the amount of evidence that can be used against you. After all, anything you tell an officer might be brought up later on. If you don't tell them anything, though, a prosecutor won't have any statements that they can use against you.
May I Speak to an Attorney?
You also have the right to speak with an attorney, thanks to the Sixth Amendment, and you don't need to wait for an officer to tell you that you have this right before you exercise it. You can request to speak with an attorney as soon as you're pulled over -- and you should ask to before you agree to any field sobriety or breathalyzer tests.
There are two reasons to ask to speak with an attorney before agreeing to any tests. First, an attorney may be able to provide legal counsel over the phone and tell you what steps to take to protect yourself. Second, if the officer refuses your request, your lawyer might be able to challenge the results of the tests in court. You had asked for legal counsel before the officer tried to collect evidence. If that legal counsel was denied, your rights weren't respected before the officer began gathering evidence.
May I Be Released to Get an Independent Blood Test?
Just as a police officer may ask to collect a blood sample from you that they can have tested for alcohol, you can ask the officer to release you so that you can get your blood drawn by an independent lab.
Even if you don't know where you would go to get your blood drawn, you should ask this question. If you're released, you can always call a friend and have them look up a place where you can go for a test. If the officer refuses to release you, your DUI attorney may be able to argue that the police officer gathered evidence against you but didn't let you get evidence to support yourself. Because this is unfair, the police officer's evidence might be thrown out by a judge.
May I Have Pen and Paper?
After you're charged with DUI, every police officer involved with your arrest will write a police report. You should write your own version of a report as soon as you can after you're arrested. If the case goes to trial, which can take several months, you'll need the report to remind yourself of specifics regarding the incident.
If you're pulled over for DUI, you'll likely be approached by at least one police officer who is asking questions. Rather than answering every inquiry, practice your rights and ask four questions of your own. They could help you defend yourself in court. For more information, talk to a DUI attorney.