Matt Fry is an experienced DWI attorney who has been defending individuals accused of driving while intoxicated in Missouri for over a decade. One of the most often asked questions he receives as a DWI lawyer is what to do once you are pulled over for suspicion of DWI in Missouri. Unfortunately, many people do not think to ask this question until it is too late. Matt Fry has seen first-hand the mistakes many of his clients make when they are pulled over, most of which can be easily avoided by referring to his following suggestions on what to do during a DWI stop.
Top Tips from DWI Attorney Matt Fry if you are Pulled Over for Suspicion of DWI:
Exhibit Proper Pull-Over Etiquette
When you see flashing lights behind your car, panic sets in. Your mind is probably racing, but your car definitely shouldn’t be. It is never wise to try to outrun a law enforcement officer (in the car or on foot). Legally, it is just going to add a mountain of trouble onto your case in the long-run. Put your turn signal on, slow down, and pull over.
After your vehicle is safely at a halt, turn off your engine and your stereo, roll your window down, and remain in your vehicle with your seatbelt fastened. Turn on your interior lights and try to get your license and registration together before the officer approaches your window. Once the officer does approach the vehicle, keep your hands visible and on the steering wheel and do not make any sudden movements. Let the officer know if you need to reach or look for your documentation any further.
Being transparent throughout the traffic stop helps to ensure that the officer and everyone in the vehicle feel safe, rather than on the defense. It is important to remember that traffic stops can be just as scary for the law enforcement officers; they have no idea what kind of dangers they could be facing approaching your vehicle, so you should always try to establish that you are not a threat to their safety.
Be Polite but Remember your Right to Remain Silent During A DWI Stop
As with any run-in with the law, being defensive or rude to the officer pulling you over is not going to get you anywhere – even if you did nothing wrong. No matter the circumstances, always act respectfully to law enforcement officers.
However, unlike in everyday life, being polite does not necessarily mean answering every question they ask. The officer might do one of two things (1) act very friendly and chatty with you (2) act intimidating and try to interrogate you. Both can be dangerous for you if you are not careful. No matter how nice a law enforcement officer acts, they are talking to you to try to gather evidence against you. In the same respect, no matter how intimidating a law enforcement officer acts – you don’t have to answer their questions.
Answer questions with as few words as possible, and if you feel uncomfortable answering something, then don’t. Remind yourself not to feel pressured to admit anything, because your rights protect you from this. The silence can sometimes feel awkward, so it might help to say something like: “As my fifth amendment right, I’d prefer not to answer any more of your questions right now.”
Ask to Call your DWI Attorney
There is a very big difference between resistance and asserting your rights; in order to know this difference, you have to know your rights. This is one of the reasons why you should always ask to speak with your attorney immediately. Your St. Louis DWI attorney will remind you of your rights and ensure that you are not taken advantage of in the event of an arrest. If you are being accused of or interrogated for a crime, it is your right to speak to an attorney; however, most of the time you must assert that right yourself. Generally, in any critical stage of the criminal process, your right to an attorney should be honored.
Among the many personalized pieces of advice, your attorney will give you about your specific situation, your attorney will likely offer this general tip. You should never physically resist a search (or an arrest), but it is also important to know that you don’t have to verbally consent. You have the right to say no to vehicle searches, field sobriety tests, and chemical tests (breathalyzer, urine sample, blood test).
There are still different avenues the officer might take to override your consent. For instance, if you do not consent to a search, the officer still might be able to search your vehicle due to probable cause or obtaining a warrant. If you feel like your rights have been violated in any of these instances, never physically resist or fight them. Trust your DWI attorney to assert those rights in court and get you the justice you deserve in the State of Missouri, the right way.