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Pulled over on suspicion of DUI? Now what?

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DUI stop - Harmon, Smith & Vourvoulias L.L.C.If you’re driving around one night and happen to get pulled over by a police officer on suspicion of DWI, you may not be sure how to act. This is especially true if you’ve never been stopped before on any charge, let alone a DWI. Even if you’re completely innocent (i.e. haven’t been drinking at all), the way you act may incriminate you. Many individuals get nervous around police officers, especially when they are suspected of illegal activity. This can falsely lead a police officer to suspect that they are guilty of something. When you are pulled over on suspicion of a DWI, remember these tips:

1.) This one should be pretty obvious, but when a police officer flashes his lights at you, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so.

2.) Know the law. Each state has different laws, and it’s important for you to know what your rights are in your state. For example, in California, the implied consent law means that when you are issued your driver’s license, you have given implied consent to submit to a chemical test if you are lawfully arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.1

3.) When you are pulled over, you are not under arrest. In an article for Forbes, Joe Dane recommends keeping your Miranda rights in mind. You can decline to answer questions (exercise your Fifth Amendment rights against self incrimination).

4.) Understand that field sobriety tests are subjective to interpretation. Field sobriety tests are voluntary. You do not have to submit to them. If you do, even if you aren’t intoxicated, you could appear intoxicated. Think about it: if it’s late at night, you’re nervous about being pulled over, and traffic is zooming by within a foot or two of where you are standing, how well will you be able to concentrate? Dane says, “If asked to perform field sobriety tests, my answer would be to politely decline, along with a statement that I believe they are too subjective and not required by California law. (I would make the oral statement at the time, since many officers wear recording devices and it wouldn’t be claimed later that I was only trying to make an excuse after the fact as to why I didn’t do them).”1

5.) Always remain calm and courteous when dealing with a police officer. Don’t get mad or offended at the questions you are asked. While prime time television shows and even some news stories have lead us to believe that every cop is corrupt, the vast majority are honest, good people just trying to do their job and keep the general public safe.

1http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2011/10/31/what-should-you-do-if-you-get-pulled-over-for-drunk-driving-in-california/

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About George Vourvoulias

George is a founding member and managing member of Harmon, Smith & Vourvoulias L.L.C., a New Orleans law firm. George concentrates his practice in maritime personal injury, construction litigation, personal injury, workers' compensation, medical malpractice, and DUI defense. George Vourvoulias's Google+ Profile

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