Given the efforts of law enforcement agencies as well as private advocacy groups over the last several decades to warn people about the dangers involved in drunk driving, most people do not plan to drink and drive. No one plans to get pulled over in a DUI traffic stop. It can – and does – happen though. Whether you have had several drinks, or you are stone cold sober, you need to know how to handle a DUI stop to decrease the likelihood of the stop ending badly. With that in mind, a Nebraska DUI attorney offers tips for handling a DUI stop.
Know the Law – When Can a Law Enforcement Officer Stop You?
It helps, for your own sake, to have some idea what the law says about the legality of traffic stops. By no means, does this mean that you should refuse to stop or that you should argue with a law enforcement officer if you believe the stop is not legal. If you believe the stop was not conducted legally, however, be sure to bring it up to your defense attorney.
A law enforcement officer must have a valid, legal reason to conduct a traffic stop. Random stops are not legal. A pretextual stop, however, is legal. This is how most DUI stops originate. A pretextual stop involves an officer pulling over a vehicle for a minor traffic infraction, such as a missing tail light, when the officer really suspects something bigger is going on, such as driving under the influence. One exception to the need for a valid reason to stop a vehicle is a DUI checkpoint. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the dangers of drunk driving outweigh the “degree of intrusion” of sobriety checkpoints and they are an exception to the search and seizure provisions of the U.S. Constitution. As such, your vehicle can be randomly stopped for a brief period of time to check if the driver appears to be driving under the influence.
Dos and Don’ts of a DUI Stop
Whether the stop was legal or not, you need to know what you should and should not do once you have been pulled over for what appears to be a DUI stop.
- Do have your license, registration, and proof of insurance ready to hand to the officer.
- Do not exit the vehicle unless the officer tells you to do so. This makes them very nervous and could make matters much worse.
- Do show respect and be polite. You have nothing to gain from acting adversarial.
- Do not question the legality of the stop. Law enforcement officers are not lawyers. Leave that argument for the courtroom if necessary.
- Do keep your hands where the officer can see them – they get jittery if you don’t.
- Do not admit to consuming alcohol. No law enforcement officer really believes you only had one drink so admitting that is as good as admitting you are drunk.
- Do not agree to perform the field sobriety tests under most circumstances. Success or failure is completely subjective and determined by the officer. Most people fail solely because they are nervous.
- Do not try to talk yourself out of an arrest – it very rarely works and usually does more harm than good.
- Do not resist arrest. Doing so will only add an additional charge against you. Let your lawyer handle everything once the officer has decided to make the arrest.
- Do not refuse the chemical breath test – unless you understand the consequences of doing so and are willing to face them. Refusal means an automatic loss of your driving privileges in Nebraska. It does, however, also take away the strongest State’s evidence in most DUI prosecutions; however, it does not ensure a dismissal or not guilty verdict.
- Do pay attention when the breath test is administered. If the test is administered improperly it could cause the results to be inadmissible so try to remember everything that happens during the test, such as how long after you were originally pulled over you took the test, how long you were observed before starting the test, and who administers the test.
Contact a Nebraska DUI Attorney at Petersen Law Office
If you find yourself charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Nebraska, contact a DUI lawyer at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense lawyer.