Photo by Devin Justesen on Unsplash

1. You do not have to answer an officer’s questions.

The only thing you are required to do when you are pulled over is provide the police officer with your driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration. If an officer asks, “How much have you had to drink tonight?” you do not have to answer. Answering, “I only had two beers” can arouse suspicion in the officer because it is such commonly given answer. Saying you had only “one” or “two” or “earlier in the day) gives the office probably cause.

Do not admit guilt and do no lie to the officer. You can exercise your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by simply replying, “I prefer not to answer” to the officer’s questions.

2. You can refuse a sobriety test.

Most people do not know that they have the right to refuse a field sobriety test. This is because the police are not required to tell you this if they pull you over. If an officer asks you to perform a field sobriety test, you should politely decline and state the reason why, saying that the test is “not required under California law” or that the test is “too subjective”  It is important to state why because your conversation with the officer may be recorded.

3. Do not give the police probable cause to arrest you.

The police can only arrest you if they have probable cause. “Probable cause” is a reasonable belief that something illegal is or was taking place in your car. Examples of probable cause include the sight of alcohol in plain view, the smell of alcohol or an admission of guilt.

Probable cause cannot be your refusal to submit to a sobriety test. If the officer does not have probable cause to suspect you of DUI, he or she cannot arrest you.

4. If the police have probable cause to arrest you for DUI, then you must submit to a sobriety test.

If you are arrested for DUI, you are required to submit to a chemical test for alcohol by breath or blood. The validity of a breath chemical test can be more easily attacked in court because the machines have a built-in margin of error that may work in your favor. A breath test can only be taken once.

If you are arrested for DUI, do not refuse the chemical test. As a stipulation for receiving your California driver’s license, you are required to give one if you are arrested for DUI. If you refuse a chemical test, it will be used against you in court and your license will be suspended for one year. Furthermore, the police will hold you down and take a blood sample anyway.

5. Be polite to the officer at all times.

Being pulled over by the police can be a stressful or even aggravating experience. However, it is important to not be rude, combatant or appear anxious to the officer. Doing so can only agitate the officer, arouse suspicion and do harm to your case. Keep calm, assert your rights and prepare to contact a DUI defense attorney.

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