There is no doubt that the best way to avoid a DUI conviction is not getting behind the wheel when you have consumed alcohol. Still, many people are pulled over under suspicion of drinking and driving for a variety of reasons.
Officers must have probable cause to stop a driver, such as violating traffic laws or equipment malfunctions, like a broken taillight. Regardless of whether you believe the officer had a valid reason, it’s important to protect yourself before you can contact an attorney.
Follow these steps if you are pulled over
Once you see the flashing lights in the mirror, it’s easy to let fear take over, especially if you’ve had a couple of drinks. However, keeping a cool head is vital, so keep these things in mind:
- Stop and stay in your car: Pull over to the side of the road as quickly and safely as possible, turn off your ignition and place your hands on the steering wheel. Do not get out of the car unless asked by the officer.
- Be polite: Obey the officer’s instructions and stay calm, even though that may be difficult. Acting out in any way or disrespecting an officer can result in additional charges.
- Know your rights: Just because you politely converse with an officer doesn’t mean you have to answer questions over whether you’ve been drinking. In fact, you should not say anything to incriminate yourself. The Fifth Amendment protects you in that regard.
- Honesty is not the best policy: Telling an officer you’ve only had “one drink” isn’t helpful to your case. Also, don’t offer additional information such as where you’ve been or who you’ve spent time with. The less you say, the better.
- Stay calm and call a lawyer: If the officer believes you have failed field sobriety and breath tests, he or she will likely place you under arrest. Be respectful and tell them you request legal representation before speaking with them any further.
Defending your future
A DUI conviction can cause devastating long-term personal and financial consequences here in South Dakota. That’s why it’s crucial to take these steps if you are charged. Working with an experienced DUI defense lawyer is essential to avoid ramifications that can affect your job, education and well-being.
Your attorney will scrutinize the officer’s actions, whether they had a valid reason to stop you in the first place, correctly performed field tests and whether the results of a breathalyzer were accurate. Your lawyer will work to lessen charges and penalties or have the case dismissed.