You cannot predict when a police officer will pull you over on suspicion of drinking and driving. But you can control your actions during the traffic stop and avoid making your situation any worse than it has to be.
Three mistakes to avoid during a police traffic stop
Without knowing any better, drivers in the Pittsburgh area can make key mistakes during a traffic stop that help the officer justify arresting them and charging them with DUI. Here are three things not to do if you are pulled over by the police.
- Try to talk your way out of it. It’s natural to feel nervous while a police officer questions you, but resist the temptation to answer their questions or explain the situation. Statements like, “I only had one glass of wine with dinner” only give the officer cause to continue investigating you for drunk driving. Instead, if the officer asks you a question you don’t want to answer, you have the right to decline. Say something like, “I don’t have anything to say about that.”
- Consent to a vehicle search. The officer may ask your permission to search your vehicle, but you do not have to consent. In fact, you should never grant permission for a search of your car without a warrant. While the officer may search anyway, if they lacked probable cause as well as your consent, the search could be illegal. Any evidence they seize should be thrown out of court.
- Let minor auto repairs slide. Before they can pull you over in the first place, an officer needs a reasonable, articulable suspicion that you have committed or are committing a crime. Justification for a traffic stop can include things as minor as a broken or burnt-out brake light or headlight. Check your vehicle’s lights regularly, and make sure your license plates and tags are visible and up to date. If it turns out that the officer lacked cause to stop you, any evidence against you could get thrown out.
These tips can reduce your chances of a DUI arrest, but it can still happen to you. If it has, your best bet for preserving your rights, avoiding jail and getting your driver’s license back as soon as possible is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.