Stay calm; don’t get out of the car. Let the police officer come to you. Locate your license and registration as you will need to have it ready to hand over to the officer. You don’t want to be observed fumbling around for these items as the officer will note this fact in his report as a symptom of intoxication. Roll your window down only enough to be able to communicate with the officer and pass over any requested documentation They will be attempting to smell alcohol on your breath, so don’t face the officer directly when you are speaking. An odor of alcohol raises the level of suspicion and may justify further investigation.
One of the first crucial questions you will be asked is whether or not you have been drinking. If you say yes, you will be making an admission that can be used against you at trial and will justify further investigation. You should tell the officer in a polite manner that you were advised by your attorney to call him first before making any statements to a police officer. Keep conversation brief and to the point.
Ordered to get out of the car? Comply. If the stop of your car was legal, police do have the right to order you to step out of the vehicle. You don’t want to be charged with a separate criminal offense for obstructing justice. At this point in the stop, the officer is only interested in collecting evidence against you to support an arrest and the criminal charge of DWI. The officer will ask/order you to perform what are known as standard field sobriety tests. These are physical coordination tests designed by the gurus at the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission to determine whether or not a person is under the influence of alcohol. These multiple tests are nearly impossible for even a sober person to pass. They include the heel to toe test, one leg stand, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, and a host of others. Why provide the police with probable cause evidence to justify your arrest? You don’t want to be arrested and taken to the police station for further testing which will incriminate you. In a polite manner, again tell the officer that you were advised to contact your attorney before submitting to any field sobriety testing. You will now start to see smoke coming out of the officer’s ears. Don’t let it bother you. You are under no legal obligation to perform these tests.
Next, the officer will ask/order you to submit to what’s known as a preliminary breath test, or PBT (in some jurisdictions this is called PAS, short for preliminary alcohol screening test). This is a portable hand held machine designed to measure the amount of alcohol in your system and given at the roadside. The suspect is required to blow into the PBT which displays a digital read out. You are under no legal obligation to submit to the PBT test and should politely refuse.
Congratulations! You have just made it more difficult for the officer to establish probable cause to arrest you and for the prosecutor to build a case against you. As always, contact an attorney experienced in fighting DUI cases. He or she can tell you if the case is strong against you or if there are any holes to be exploited. You don’t want to become easy prey for a skilled prosecutor.