You look up and see flashing lights in your rearview mirror. Maybe you just had a glass of wine with dinner, maybe a few beers while watching the game, but are you drunk? If you are concerned that the officer making the traffic stop could smell alcohol on your breath and assume you are drunk driving, it is wise to do the following:
- Find a safe place to pull over. Find an area that is out of the way of traffic and well-lit to pull over. Stay in your car and wait for the officer to approach the vehicle.
- Be polite. Do not be rude. The officer is just doing their job. Be polite. Offensive comments or angry outbursts will not help your case — instead they could do more damage.
- Watch what you say. You do not have to answer the police officer’s questions. You do not have to say if you were drinking or how much you may have consumed. If you choose not to answer these questions, which is likely in your best interests, do so politely. You do not have to consent to a field sobriety test, blood alcohol test or breathalyzer. You can kindly say you are following the advice of your attorney.
It is also important to actually contact an attorney. Legal counsel can review the details of the stop and make sure it was legal. If the officers did not have grounds to conduct the stop, any evidence gathered during the stop will likely not be admissible in court. This can result in a reduction or even dismissal of any criminal charges.
Even if the officer had reason for the stop, defenses are available. An attorney can review possible defenses and help tailor a strategy to your specific case.