Getting stopped by the police on suspicion of a DUI – or for any reason – can be a stressful and nerve-racking experience. But how you react and interact with a police officer once you’ve been pulled over is important, because your actions could potentially be used as probable cause for a search – or even used against you in order to ensure a conviction.
That’s why it’s critical to be prepared. In the event that you are pulled over, you need to understand these 5 common mistakes that drivers often make during a DUI stop so that you can avoid falling into the traps yourself.
Mistake #1: Admitting you have been drinking alcohol.
If you are being stopped on suspicion of a DUI, a law enforcement officer will ask if you consumed any alcohol before getting behind the wheel. Even if you have been drinking alcohol, you don’t want to admit that to the police officer. But you don’t want to lie either.
Your best bet might be to simply say, “No comment,” or “I don’t want to answer that question.” Legally, you only have to tell a cop your full name. Otherwise, you can refrain from answering questions – and if they will incriminate you, you absolutely should.
Mistake #2: Doing a field sobriety test when you know you won’t pass.
Refusing to take a chemical test can cause you to lose your driver’s license. But field sobriety tests are voluntary, and if you refuse to do one, there aren’t any consequences.
Now, sometimes officers can get confused and might mistake your field sobriety test refusal as a refusal for a chemical test. That’s why it’s important to clarify that you are only refusing the field sobriety test and are willing to submit to a chemical test.
Also important to know: in order for an officer to arrest you and require a chemical test, there has to be probable cause.
Mistake #3: Resisting arrest.
If a police officer believes he or she has probable cause and decides to arrest you, your first instinct might be to resist. Especially if you don’t believe you’ve done anything wrong.
But even if you haven’t done anything wrong, fight the urge to resist arrest. Fighting against an arrest is not only useless, it can make your situation worse. Under the laws of our state, not only can a police officer add a resisting arrest charge to any other charges, the simple fact that you resisted arrest can later be used against you to show that you are guilty of the other charge.
Mistake #4: Allowing a police officer to search your car.
You should never give a police officer permission to search your car. Why not? Well, if they have to ask, then they don’t have the right to legally search your vehicle… unless you allow them to.
Even though you may have nothing to hide, you don’t want to give the police an opportunity to find some kind of evidence to use against you or to file more criminal charges. Remember to always refuse searches, and to refrain from talking unless it’s necessary.
Mistake #5: Not hiring an experienced Colorado DUI lawyer.
If you are arrested and accused of a DUI, you will want to contact a qualified Colorado DUI lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced criminal attorney will know the law and can look at the facts of your case to determine the best way to proceed to get your charges reduced, dismissed, or dropped. In short, working with a respected lawyer will give you the best chance at receiving a positive outcome.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.