What to do If You’re Stopped for a DUI
Pull over safely. As soon as you observe the squad car’s flashing lights, pull over immediately, in a safe manner, and stop. Even if you are fairly sure that you are not the driver the Police Officer wants to stop, immediately pulling over and stopping demonstrates respect for the Police Officer’s authority and emergency vehicles. If you are the driver who is being stopped, there could be many different reasons for it.
When pulling over, try to pick a spot to stop where you and the Police Officer will be safe from traffic approaching from behind. Use your right turn signal and pull over in a safe, smooth and controlled manner. Remember, the Police Officer is observing and evaluating every move you make, and is most likely video-recording your driving and the stop. The Police Officer will be observing your car closely, as you pull over, for signs of possible impairment, such as striking or driving over the curb, or driving beyond the shoulder, or not stopping immediately after pulling over onto the shoulder.
Stay in your car. Getting out of your car may give the Police Officer the impression that you are going to be argumentative, or violent, or assault the Officer, or even try to flee, although that may not be your intent. Even if you are frightened, anxious, or angry, stay seated in your car and compose yourself. If the Police Officer has stopped you at night, turn on the interior dome light. Keep your hands in plain view, on the steering wheel, as the Police Officer approaches. Do not make any quick or sudden moves that will cause the Police Officer to be fearful or suspect that you are reaching for a weapon, or will act violently, or are trying to hide something, such as a weapon, or alcohol or an illegal substance.
Have your paperwork handy. One of the first things a Police Officer will ask is for you to produce your driver’s license and proof of insurance. If your paperwork is in the glove compartment or under your seat, you should inform the Police Officer of this before reaching over and opening your glove compartment, or reaching underneath your seat. Do not make any quick or sudden moves that may cause the Police Officer to think you are reaching for a weapon or may flee the scene. Make sure that you look for and handle your paperwork in a calm and controlled manner, and hand the documents to the Police Officer without dropping any of the paperwork. The Police Officer will be watching you closely for signs of impairment, observing whether or not you understand the Police Officer’s requests, and how you retrieve, handle and provide requested documentation.
Let the Police Officer speak first. It is possible that the Officer stopped you for a traffic violation less serious than the charge of Driving under the Influence (DUI), such as a burned out tail light or an expired license plate sticker. Be polite and respectful when answering the Police Officer’s questions. Speak in conversational tones. Do not volunteer any information, as you could be inadvertently providing incriminating information that could be used against you later in Court.
Do not argue with the Police Officer. It is unlikely that you will get the Police Officer to change his/her mind about arresting you for the offense of DUI, and arguing or resisting may result in additional charges and provide additional incriminating evidence of impairment which will be used against you in Court. Arguing will only put the Police Officer on the defensive, and may make him/her feel that the situation may quickly become dangerous. If the Police Officer feels that you pose a threat to his/her safety, you may be treated in a much more aggressive manner. Save your arguments for Court, where you may argue your case with the assistance of a DUI defense attorney skilled in Illinois DUI law.
What you should do if the Police Officer asks you to perform Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’s). You are not required to perform Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. Unless you are a gifted athlete or Olympic gymnast, you should not perform these tests. Very respectfully and politely decline the Police Officer’s request, or orders, to perform these tests.
Do not resist if the Police Officer is going to arrest you. If the Police Officer decides to arrest you, there is nothing you can do at that point except to respect the Police Officer’s authority and comply with his/her instructions. Resisting arrest or trying to flee will only result in additional charges against you.
Contact an experienced DUI defense attorney at your first opportunity. You have the right to make a reasonable number of phone calls within a reasonable time after your arrest. If you are unable to contact a DUI defense attorney while being processed at the Police Department, then soon after you have posted bond and have been released, contact DUI Attorney David B. Franks at 847-854-7700.