If you’ve been out drinking and you see police lights come on behind you as you’re driving home, you’re legally required to pull over. Failing to do so can lead to severe consequences, and complying with an officer in a polite and respectful manner will always make things better for you. Once you’re pulled over, though, what are your legal rights? Do you have to take a breathalyzer on site or tell the officer if you’ve been drinking? Despite what pop culture likes to show on TV and in movies, the answer to most of these is no. Here’s a guide to understanding your legal rights when pulled over for a DUI.
When the officer first walks up to your car, you’ll need to provide several important documents, even if you aren’t guilty of driving drunk. You must give them your driver’s license, insurance information, and car registration. Keeping these documents on your person at all times or in your car is a good way to make sure you have it on hand in case you get pulled over for anything. Being polite and cooperative with the officer has also shown to get more positive results from them.
Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety tests are a common tool officers use to indicate if someone has over the legal amount of alcohol in their system. Tests include following:
- Watching a moving object with your eyes
- Following directions while completing a number of steps
- Movements and balancing on one leg
While an officer may ask you to get out of your car (to which you must oblige), you are not required to do any field sobriety test.
Another tool officers frequently use to determine a driver’s sobriety on site is with a breathalyzer. This is a device that measures a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) when they breathe into it. Unfortunately, breathalyzers can be incredibly unreliable and produce false results. You have the right to decline taking a breath test, or any other test, since this could be incriminating.
Refusing to take a test or answer questions about what you’ve been drinking isn’t illegal, but you may still get arrested and have your license suspended. The thing is, this will happen if you take a test and fail or answer any questions wrong, so you aren’t doing more harm by refusing. Instead, use your right to speak to a lawyer, like a DUI lawyer before you make a statement to the police.