WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE PULLED OVER AND YOU HAVE HAD ALCOHOL:
Don’t drink and drive. That’s the first word of advice from this Dallas DWI lawyer. Nobody is comfortable seeing someone impaired get behind the wheel of a car and then drive. People do not want to be victimized by someone who cannot control their car.
Always try to be courteous to the police. They have a stressful and dangerous job. If you are respectful and courteous to the police officer who pulls you over, they are more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt and send you on your way if you are not impaired. On the other hand, if you are rude or disrespectful, and if they can smell alcohol on you, you are only giving them an excuse, and you have nobody to blame but yourself if arrested for rude or disrespectful behavior. A DWI can be proven by an officers “opinion” that you are intoxicated. They can be very convincing in testifying that a person was intoxicated in their “opinion”. You don’t want to nudge them towards not liking you and feeling like something must be wrong with you in the way you are acting . . . Don’t give them an incentive to want to arrest you for some reason due to your behavior.
Police officers will try to win their cases once they make an arrest. It becomes a competition at this point. Most officers want to “win” and prove what they did was the correct course of action. It reflects on their record and ability as an officer. Officers get paid overtime to testify in court, so it is additional and higher pay. They have an incentive to try and win their case, both psychologically, and financially.
Once an officer turns on his lights to pull you over, you need to drive as courteously as possible, and pull to the side of the roadway as quickly as safely possible. The longer you take, the more likely they will use your delay in pulling over as evidence you were indeed DWI. Pull to the side of the road, park your vehicle, and turn it off. Wait inside the vehicle for instructions from the police officer of what to do next.
If the officer asks you to step out of the vehicle, do so with your hands visible, and without any quick or sudden movements. Do not put your hands in your pockets. At this point in the stop, the police officer usually has no idea who you are or what you are up to. They are usually on heightened alert at this time and are looking to make sure you have no weapons. Do not give him a reason to think you may have a weapon in your pockets somewhere – keep your hands out of your pockets. Have your driver’s license and proof of insurance with you to hand to the officer. Remove these items from your wallet and hand them to the officer. This shows the officer that you understand the situation, and that you understand what he requires. It is some proof of your ability to think clearly, which is evidence of you not being intoxicated.
If you have an odor of alcohol, the officer will ask you if you have been drinking. Unless you have a legitimate reason why you smell like alcohol and were not drinking (like if someone poured a beer on you but you really didn’t have a drink), then you should be honest with the officer and admit that you did indeed have an alcoholic beverage. If you deny it the officer will be suspicious that you are hiding information from him. The officer will often then ask how many drinks you have had. If you answer more than a couple, you will likely find yourself under arrest.
If you have had more than two beers, you have the right not to incriminate yourself. You are not forced to answer. You may ask the officer if he is placing you under arrest and why you were stopped. If the officer says you are under arrest, you should ask for a lawyer before answering any questions. You should then ask that your attorney be present for any field sobriety tests that the officer wishes to perform. Advise the officer that you do wish to perform the tests, but when your attorney is there to advise you of which tests are valid and which ones he has to actually perform.
If the officer says you can’t leave but you are not under arrest yet then you should again ask for a lawyer, if in Dallas, then ask for a Dallas DWI lawyer that you know of to be present. Do not over explain, just make the request. The officer will then be forced to be careful not to violate your rights you have just invoked. In order to continue detaining you, he must have a articulable reasonable suspicion that you are involved in criminal activity / DWI. The officer must have more than a gut feeling or hunch. His detaining you cannot exceed the duration, scope and purpose of the actual reasonable suspicions he actually has.
In order to actually arrest you, the officer must have probable cause to make the arrest. This is more than the reasonable suspicion he had to detain you in the first place. This has been defined by Texas courts as the type of evidence that “would lead a reasonable person, based on that person’s experience and training, to believe that a crime has occurred.”
In summary, be courteous, remain silent with incriminating information (don’t lie, just remain silent and ask if you are under arrest, and why the officer has stopped you). Ask for your attorney, usually a local attorney knows the local system best. So if in Dallas, ask for a strong, aggressive, and knowledgeable Dallas DWI lawyer, and let the officer do his job.