Your attorney would prefer that you only do or say what the law requires of you when you are stopped for suspicion of DWI, AND NOTHING MORE!!
When the red lights go off behind you, safely pull over to the right as soon as possible. Put the car in park and keep your hands visible on the steering wheel. Everything that happens is being recorded with video and audio by the officer’s dash-cam camera or body camera and microphone. The law requires you to provide identification, which is: your name, residence address, and date of birth. All of this information (assuming the address is current) is on your Driver License. So, give the officer your DL. You are also required to show proof of insurance. So, show the officer your insurance card. You may be asked to step out of the car (for the officer’s safety, to make sure you’re not reaching for a gun). So do that. Beyond those three things, DO NOT answer ANY questions of the officer. NONE!! Politely, but firmly respond, “I wish to speak to my attorney before answering any questions.” DO NOT agree to take any portable breath test (PBT), breath test, or blood test. DO NOT agree to participate in ANY standard field sobriety tests (called SFST’s) such as the “Walk and Turn test,” “Count backwards,” “Finger to Nose test,” “Recite ABC’s,” “One Leg Stand test,” or “Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (follow a pen with your eyes test).” All of these SFST’s are designed for everyone to fail. You ARE NOT required by law to take any of those tests. You may get your Driver License suspended for 180 days for refusing a breath or blood test, but that can be addressed by your attorney with an Application for Occupational Driver License (ODL), which will allow you to continue to drive during the suspension period. An ODL is far less onerous than handing over information to the Police that will be used to prosecute you for this offense. A DWI conviction CANNOT be expunged from your criminal record. It will be there for all time!
You still have the right to remain silent. You DO NOT have to give any information about where you are, what time it is, if you have been drinking, what did you drink, where did you drink, how many drinks you had, state on a 1-10 scale where are you now in terms of intoxication, what you had to eat, when did you last eat, where you are going, or where you have been? All of these type questions are used by the officer to gain information he or she would otherwise not have if you had followed my advice. All of your answers will be used as evidence against you. Remember to state, “I wish to speak with my attorney before answering any questions.” On the ride to the jail, the officer may try to engage you in casual conversation. DO NOT participate. Everything that goes on in the squad car is being recorded. DO NOT agree to allow the officer to search your vehicle, trunk, purse, backpack, briefcase, etc. He needs to obtain a search warrant first.
DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING! The officer may read you a document called a “DIC 24.” This document is referred to as the “Statutory Warning,” and warns you of your right to refuse the breath or blood test and the consequences of such refusal, which is the DL suspension. After reading this document to you, the officer will ask you if you will agree to take the breath or blood test. Politely state, “I wish to consult with my attorney before answering that question.” Afterwards, the officer will ask you to sign the DIC-24. Once again, please state, “I would like to speak with my attorney before signing any document.”
All that transpires between you and the officer is being recorded with video and audio. When that video is played in front of the jury in your trial, the jury will hear that you are asserting your rights guaranteed to you by our Constitution and laws, which is: your right to an attorney and your right to remain silent and not be compelled to give evidence against yourself. You can’t be faulted for doing that, and you are protecting yourself from giving evidence that will be used to convict you of this offense. This looks a lot better to the jury than you blabbing on about your pre-arrest drinking activity.
DO NOT speak to anyone in the jail about the facts of your case. You may be recorded. DO NOT speak to anyone about the facts of your case on the jail or visitation telephones. You may be recorded. DO NOT speak to anyone about the facts of your case after you are released from jail, except your attorney. Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you are released, because you have only 15 days from the date of arrest to take action to delay the automatic suspension of your DL.
This is the 11th time I have used the words, “DO NOT” in this article. I really mean it!!
In summary, please remember these points:
- Pull over as soon as it is safe to do so.
- Keep your hands visible on the steering wheel.
- Give the officer your Driver License when asked.
- Give the officer your insurance card when asked.
- Get out of the car when asked.
- Be Polite, but Firm!
- Remember everything you say and do is being recorded.
- Contact an attorney immediately to assist you with your case and preserve your driving privileges from being automatically suspended.
- Remember you have the right to remain silent and not give evidence against yourself.
- Refuse to participate in all SFST’s.
- Answer any questions; instead say, “I wish to speak to my attorney before answering any questions.
- Agree to take any breath or blood test.
- Participate in any Field Sobriety tests.
- Agree to allow the officer to search your car, trunk, purse, backpack or briefcase.
- Sign any document. Instead say, “I wish to speak to my attorney before signing any documents.”
- Engage in small talk with the officer while in the squad car.
- Talk to anyone at the jail or on the jail telephones about the facts of your case. Those calls are being recorded.
- After your release from jail, DO NOT discuss the facts of your case with anyone, except your attorney.