Even if you believe you are sober enough to drive, your alcohol level can easily be higher than the legal limit. If an officer suspects you of driving while intoxicated, they will likely pull you over to have you take field sobriety tests or a breathalyzer test. However, even if you have been drinking, you have several rights, so check out these four steps you should take if an officer suspects you of driving while under the influence of alcohol.
Comply but Remain Silent
If an officer pulls you over for any reason, you should comply with anything you are legally required to do. This may include providing your identification, stepping out of the vehicle, putting your hands on the hood of the vehicle, etc. However, you do not have to speak as you comply. In fact, you should use your right to remain silent as much as possible, especially if you have been drinking. This reduces the risk of you saying or doing anything further to incriminate yourself. For example, if the officer asks if you've been drinking, and you say no because you only had half a beer, it may be used to discredit you later.
Don't Toss Anything out the Window
Before and after you are pulled over, it may be tempting to toss something out the window, such as an empty beer can left by a friend. However, the officer thinking you've been drinking and driving alone isn't enough to warrant a search. On the other hand, if police see you toss something out the window, it gives them valid reason to search your car. Anything they find in your car can then be used against you if you are arrested. If you are pulled over and you don't toss anything out the window, police are allowed to look inside the car through the windows, and if they spot something suspicious, it may be enough proof for a search.
Refuse or Take Field Sobriety and/or Breathalyzer Tests
When you get pulled over and the officer suspects you have been drinking, they'll likely request you do field sobriety tests and/or take an on-the-spot breathalyzer test. Field sobriety tests include walking in a straight line or other tasks that are difficult to do if you have been drinking. An on-the-spot breathalyzer test uses your breath to measure your alcohol level. You have the right to refuse these tests, but doing so will almost always result in an arrest. If you believe you can pass because you haven't been drinking, it's best to take the tests, but if you expect to fail because you have been drinking, it may be best to refuse.
Ask for an Independent Chemical Test
If you get arrested for refusing to take field sobriety and/or breathalyzer tests, you'll eventually have to take some kind of breathalyzer or chemical test to measure your alcohol level. This is often done at the police department, but you can actually request an independent chemical test instead. This allows you to use an unbiased third party to test your alcohol level. If you do request an independent chemical test, it must be performed quickly to get accurate results. For this reason, the police are required to let you leave or contact your lawyer to take the independent chemical test. If they don't, your attorney may be able to have the test thrown out, so it can't be used against you.
If you've been pulled over and an officer suspects you've been drinking, you have the right to remain silent and refuse on-the-spot tests. If you do get arrested, of course, make sure to contact your attorney before you say anything. For more information about DUI charges and defenses, contact an attorney at a law firm like DUI Lawyers of Las Vegas in your area today.