The simple truth is you never know when a police officer may try to pull you over when you’re driving. If you are directed to pull over because the officer notices something off, it can result in the possibility of them suspecting you may be committing a DUI (driving under the influence).
On the other hand, maybe the police officer pulled you over because of a DUI checkpoint. In any case, you need to know your rights if you are pulled over.
First and foremost, when a police officer opts to pull you over at a DUI checkpoint, find a safe place to pull over. Remember that the officer will immediately observe any and all of your actions to put in their police report.
Slow down and safely pull over. Keep in mind that if you make any sudden erratic movement, this can go into the report and make the officer believe you are intoxicated, even if you are not.
Usually, when a police officer requests a person to step out of their car, it’s for safety purposes because they want to ensure that the individual isn’t concealing a weapon. However, in some cases, they may ask you to leave your car to take a field sobriety test. However, it is within your own rights for you to refuse to exit your vehicle to take a field sobriety test.
Always try your best to be polite and respectful to a police officer. If you behave in a rude manner or begin acting belligerently, you are more likely to end up getting arrested, even if you are doing nothing illegal. The officer could report that he felt threatened or that you were acting intoxicated. Because of this, be helpful and courteous and answer light questions to the best of your ability. Avoid sounding insincere or sarcastic.
You also have the right to remain silent or not say too much to the officer. Don’t offer any information and be curt when answering questions. Being as quiet as possible can work in your favor. It means there is less of a chance of incriminating yourself. You can politely say that your attorney advised you not to answer any further questions.
In some cases, a police officer will ask if they can search your car. Unless the officer has a warrant, you should not allow them to search your vehicle. If you have something illegal, it can be used against you. Generally, you should not consent to a vehicle search and the officer should only have a plain view.
Legally, you are not under any obligation to take a field sobriety test, even if an officer requests you do so. This is one of the best tools a police officer has for gathering evidence against you.
However, at the same time, if you are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you could prove it by taking a chemical test at the police station later, which would prove you cannot be charged with a DUI.
Just as you can refuse a field sobriety test, you can also refuse a breathalyzer test. These tests are sometimes proven unreliable and can give errant results. If you refuse to take the test when a police officer requests it, your license may be suspended, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will face jail time. A chemical test is also more effective at revealing the truth of whether or not a person is actually intoxicated.
If you get arrested, it’s wise to take notes after your release.
Keep a journal or simply jot down everything you remember in a notepad
or on your phone. You’ll want to include the following:
• Where you were and what you were doing before driving
• How much you had to drink and what you drank
• How long after you drank were you pulled over
• The officer’s behavior and instructions they gave you
• What you said to the officer
• Where you were pulled over
• Whether you were read your Miranda rights
• When you took a chemical test and how long it had been since you had been drinking
Getting in touch with a criminal defense attorney is imperative after you have been pulled over and arrested. Even if you were not actually legally intoxicated, a DUI defense attorney can greatly help you in court. You will want to present them with the notes you took so that they can begin building a solid defense. Make sure the criminal defense attorney you ultimately choose has the knowledge and experience in handling DUI cases.
If you have been arrested after being pulled over at a DUI checkpoint in Tennessee, contact the Law Office of Joseph A. Fanduzz at (865) 896-9971 to discuss your possible defense.