The realization that those lights in the rearview mirror mean you are getting stopped is not a welcome realization for any motorist. Most of the time, however, a traffic stop results in nothing more than an expensive ticket, at worst. If the officer who stops you believes you are driving under the influence (DUI) though, that annoying traffic stop will turn a much more serious DUI investigation. If you have never been through a DUI investigation, it can be downright frightening, whether you are under the influence or not. SO you have some idea of what to expect, an Omaha DUI attorney explains how to handle a DUI stop.
- Do not hesitate to stop. This applies to any traffic stop because when a motorist hesitates to stop, a law enforcement officer immediately gets edgy, assuming that the driver has done something wrong that would prompt him/her to make a run for it. As soon as you see the lights behind you, turn on your turn signal, slow down and pull over at the first safe place. If you are suspicious of the vehicle because it is unmarked, call 911 on your cell phone and ask the operator to verify the vehicle and/or slow down but do not actually stop until you reach a heavily populated area.
- Put the officer at ease. Do not exit the vehicle unless the officer tells you to do so. This makes them very nervous and could make matters much worse. Instead, get your license, proof of insurance, and registration ready if you can do so easily. Don’t have your hands out of the officer’s line of sight though once he/she approaches the vehicle.
- Be careful how you answer questions. You may not be sure how to answer if the officer asks you if you have been drinking, particularly if you have indeed been drinking. It’s a difficult line to straddle. Lying to a police officer is never a good idea; however, if you are blatantly honest, you can almost count on going to jail. Even if you really did only have one drink, the officer is unlikely to believe you because just about every drunk driver tells the arresting officer “I only had one drink.”
- You are not required to perform the field sobriety tests. Success or failure is completely subjective and determined by the officer. The results of the field sobriety tests are not admissible in court but can be used as the probable cause necessary to place you under arrest.
- Do not make matters worse. Don’t bother trying to talk the officer out of arresting you and most certainly do not resist arrest. If the officer stopped you illegally, or has done something else wrong, there will be a time and place to address that. The side of the roadway is not that time and place.
- Stop talking. In fact, once it becomes clear where the stop is heading, say as little as possible. Remember, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
- The exception to the above rule. One exception to the above “stop talking” rule is that you can, and should, ask the officer politely what the original reason was for the stop. That answer could be an important piece of your defense.
When Can an Officer Stop Me?
Knowledge is power. It is always a good idea, therefore, to know some basics about the law. When it comes to traffic stops, 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, which 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 that the driver is driving under the influence. The officer must, however, have a legal reason to extend the stop beyond the time it takes to address the reason for the original stop.
Contact an Omaha DUI Attorney
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in the State of Nebraska, contact an Omaha DUI attorney at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense lawyer.