Many people in Pennsylvania do not know what to do when they are pulled over on an officer’s suspicion that they are drinking and driving. So what to do if you are pulled over for a DUI? By handling a DUI stop in the right way, you might avoid being arrested or at least avoid making mistakes that could harm your defense to the charges. Hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law after being charged with a DUI offense might help you to obtain a better outcome for your charges. Here is what to do if you are pulled over for a DUI.
Stop your vehicle in a normal manner.
As soon as you see the officer’s lights behind you, pull over safely. Make sure to use your turn signal and stop your vehicle immediately. When you are being stopped for a DUI, how you pull over and stop is being recorded. After you come to a stop, make sure to remain calm. Police officers have dangerous jobs, so you should not do anything that might alarm the officer as he or she approaches your vehicle. Keep your hands on the wheel and avoid making sudden movements.
Be polite to the officer.
When the officer comes to your window, be courteous and respectful. Remember that the conversation between you and the officer is being recorded. If you are rude, you are much likelier to be placed under arrest. Keep your conversation to a minimum, and be prepared to provide your driver’s license, insurance information, and registration. In Pennsylvania, drivers are required to provide this information when they are pulled over upon the officer’s request. Remain calm and remember that the officer is observing you to see how you act when you are retrieving the required information and handing it to him or her.
Avoid incriminating yourself.
Most people are nervous when they are stopped by the police after they have been drinking. Many people make the mistake of thinking that they can talk their way out of being arrested. Anything that you say to the police officer can be used by the prosecutor in your DUI case. The only thing that you are required to do is to provide your license, registration, insurance, and name to the officer. You are not required to answer questions or to say anything. If the officer asks you if you have been drinking, you can tell the officer that you do not want to answer any questions. Do not talk about where you have been, who was with you, or what you did. The fact that you chose to remain silent cannot be used against you in a trial. Anything that you say can, however. Never volunteer any information that you are not required to provide.
The field sobriety tests
The field sobriety tests are the tests that are performed on the roadside. These are standardized tests that are meant to help the police to build probable cause for a DUI arrest. Commonly, these tests include the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk-and-turn, and the one-legged stand. You are not required to take the field sobriety tests. The fact that you refused to submit to them can be used against you, but the officer will have a lot more evidence against you if you agree to perform them. The tests are subjective, and many sober people fail them. If you refuse to take the tests, you will likely be arrested. However, the prosecutor will have less evidence of intoxication to use against you.
The preliminary breath test.
You should not confuse the preliminary breath test with the chemical test that is administered after a DUI arrest. The preliminary breath test or PBT is performed at the roadside and is an informal test that is meant to help the officer decide whether you should be arrested for a DUI. You are not required to submit to the PBT. However, if you are arrested, you will be required to submit to a formal chemical test at the police station or jail. You will not suffer any driver’s license consequences for refusing the PBT, but you will face a suspension of your license if you refuse to submit to the chemical test at the station.
The chemical test.
If you are arrested, you will be asked to submit to the chemical test at the station or processing center. If you refuse to submit to it, your license will be suspended for at least 12 months even if your DUI case is dismissed. Refusing to submit to the chemical test can also be used by the prosecutor against you at trial. People who refuse to submit to the required chemical tests in Pennsylvania are also potentially prosecuted for the highest-BAC level of DUI offenses in Pennsylvania. This means that if you are convicted, you may face the highest penalties for a DUI in the state even if your actual BAC would have been much lower if you had submitted to the test.
Document what happened after you are released.
After you are released from custody, write down everything that you can remember about your DUI, including the people you were with before your stop, what and how much you drank, whether you were taking any medication, the road conditions, where you were stopped, and what you ate. If you agreed to perform the field sobriety tests, write down the conditions where you performed the test and whether the ground was uneven. You should also write down what types of shoes you were wearing and whether you suffer from any medical conditions that affect your balance. All of this information can be helpful to your lawyer.
Contact DiCindio Law
You should contact an experienced DUI defense lawyer at DiCindio Law as soon as possible after you are released from custody. Getting help early can provide your attorney with more time to work on your defense. Your lawyer can appear with you at your preliminary hearing and can help you to navigate the confusing court process. Call us today to learn about your rights at 610.430.3535.