Being stopped for drunk driving in Alabama can be a frightening experience, especially if this is the first time. There are harsh legal consequences for a DUI conviction, such as heavy fines, loss of driving privileges, and even jail time. The outcome of your case will depend heavily on what you do during the initial stop and the steps you take shortly thereafter.
There are several “dos” and “don’ts” to follow during a DUI stop and subsequent arrest:
Do be Respectful
When you are pulled over for DUI, it is understandable to be rattled and shaken. However, do your best to stay calm and maintain your composure. No matter how the officer is treating you, it is always in your best interests be polite, courteous, and respectful. Never be rude to an officer, and if they ask you to step out of the car, comply with their request without complaint. The way you conduct yourself at the initial stop could be helpful later on in negotiating a deal with the prosecutor.
Do Provide the Required Information
There are three pieces of information you are required to provide a police officer when you are stopped; your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. Have these documents ready to hand over to the officer when he/she approaches your vehicle. Try to avoid having to fish around for this information when the officer is at your window. Provide the required information when the officer asks for it, then place both hands on the steering wheel where the officer can see them.
Don’t Answer Additional Questions
After you have provided the officer with the required information, you are under no obligation to answer any further questions. It is important to understand that if an officer pulls you over for DUI, they already suspect that you are guilty. The questions they ask you may seem like “small talk”, but they are designed to obtain probable cause for a DUI arrest. If an officer asks you how much you have had to drink, do not give them an answer like, “just a couple of beers.” Do not admit to any type of guilt at all. Instead, politely decline to answer the question and let the officer know that you need to speak with your attorney first.
Don’t Submit to a Field Sobriety Test (FST)
Field sobriety tests are those that are conducted at the roadside during a DUI stop. Examples may include walking a straight line, standing on one leg, or following an object with your eyes. Preliminary alcohol screenings (PAS) are another type of FST that help establish your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time you are pulled over. In general, there is no good reason to submit to a field sobriety test unless you are absolutely certain that you are under the legal limit of .08 BAC. Without the results from an FST, there is less evidence that can be used against you to establish probable cause for the arrest and eventually obtain a conviction.
Do Submit to the Chemical Test after the Arrest
Under Alabama’s “implied consent” law, you are required to submit to a chemical (breath, blood or urine) test if probable cause is found to place you under arrest for DUI. Refusal to take this test can result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license along with other enhanced penalties. Your refusal may also be used as evidence by the prosecutor to argue to the jury that you are guilty of what you are charged with.
Do Contact an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer
Many individuals who are pulled over for drunk driving wonder if it will make any difference to contact a DUI attorney. After all, if the police and prosecution already have proof that you were over the legal limit, how is a lawyer going to get you out of it? Although the state may have ample evidence against you, there are often weaknesses in their case that are not always readily apparent. A DUI lawyer can thoroughly assess the specific circumstances of your case and put together the most effective defense strategy to minimize the negative consequences as much as possible.
For a discreet and confidential consultation with our skilled and experienced DUI defense attorney, call our office today at (334) 345-2765, or send us a message through our online contact form.