If you happen to be involved in a traffic stop by law enforcement, you should have a game-plan ready to go to improve your chances of driving out of there instead of riding in the back of a police car. Here are some tips from a criminal defense lawyer that are useful in most situations involving a traffic stop.
Regardless of how upset you are, or how nervous you might be, it is critical to above all be respectful and courteous to police. First and foremost, remember that you’re talking to a person who might be reasonable if you give him or her the chance. (Don’t expect the officer to be reasonable, but at least keep this option open and be pleasantly surprised when they are.)
Put another way, you have zero chance of encountering a nice police officer if you act like a jerk. If you act courteous, you at least have a small chance of encountering a nice officer- or at least keeping them away from their more angry/base impulses.
Don’t dig your hole deeper: DON’T MAKE STATEMENTS OR ADMIT TO STUFF:
While you should be courteous and respectful to police during any situation, that doesn’t mean you need to discard or disregard your rights. You have the right to remain silent and have the assistance of a lawyer if you are under criminal investigation.
DUI Chemical Testing:
(While it is true you can be required to provide a blood or breath sample to law enforcement if you are arrested for DUI without the right to consult with a lawyer regarding the chemical testing, this does not mean you have to speak to the officers, make any admissions or confessions.) Understand the difference between chemical testing (which does not involve any verbal statements or acknowledgements from the subject) and interrogation or questioning, which does involve verbal statements by the subject under investigation. Where law enforcement is trying to make you talk or make verbal statements: You have an absolute right to remain silent and you need to envoke it! Where law enforcement wants to have you blow into a breath testing machine, in some situations you must, without being allowed to speak with a lawyer or remain silent first.
What should you say?
With courtesy and respect, give the officer your name, driver’s license information and insurance information. If the questioning goes any further, politely decline.. and try to be smart about it. Do not “go Rambo” on the cop and try to play roadside lawyer with him. Do not get pissy. Just be respectful and say you’re unsure and would don’t like to discuss things with law enforcement without a lawyer. Its tricky to envoke your rights without coming across as a jerk, but it is critical to not dig your hole any deeper. Above all, do not make statements that will make your case worse and never, ever lie to police during these stops. Just keep your mouth shut and be respectful.
Blood or Breath Test?
Which test should you submit to? There are pro’s and con’s to both, so it really depends on the situation. Here is an article we discuss DUI breath testing.