Do You Know Your Rights In A Traffic Stop For DUI?

If you are stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence, do you know your rights? Your actions at the time of your traffic stop could mean the difference between a jail sentence and walking away from this incident with no consequences.

Patrick Lauer is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has handled more than 5,000 DUI (DWI) cases in the Harrisburg area and throughout Pennsylvania.

If you are stopped for suspicion of DUI, at the earliest opportunity, assert your rights and contact the Law Offices of Patrick F. Lauer, Jr. LLC, at 717-303-3042.

What Should You Do If You Are Pulled Over For DUI?

You should be prepared in the event that you are pulled over for DUI. You should know what to do during a traffic stop — even if you know you are innocent. Follow these simple steps to protect your rights:

  • Remain calm and be cooperative with the officer. But, be firm in asserting your rights.
  • Provide your driver's license, registration and insurance only. Do not volunteer any other information.
  • Do not make any statements, especially in response to: "Have you been drinking?" If you admit to drinking even one beer, it gives the officer reason to continue with questions and tests. In fact, with every word you say, the officer is checking for alcohol on your breath or listening for slurred speech.
  • Present the card Notice to Officer at Roadside Stop. Don't read it, just give it to the officer. This will not prevent your arrest, but it goes on the record that you respectfully declined to answer questions without legal counsel.
  • If the officer persists, say that you wish to contact your attorney. Asserting this constitutional right will not be held against you in court.
  • Do not agree to perform field sobriety tests such as the walk and turn or one-legged stand. You are under no legal obligation to submit to these tests. They are unreliable and designed to give the officer supporting evidence for arrest.
  • Do not agree to a roadside Breathalyzer test. Many people confuse this informal test with the "real" chemical test, or are afraid to say no. You are under no obligation to give a sample until you have been actually placed under arrest for suspicion of DUI. The portable breath test (PBT) device used by law enforcement in traffic stops is not admissible in court. And even if you blow less than .08, that evidence can be used to prove that your driving was impaired.

What If You Meet A DUI Roadblock?

Law enforcement agencies often set up checkpoints to catch drunk drivers. If you come upon a roadblock, they have no probable cause to suspect you specifically. Thus our advice is:

  • Say as little as possible. Do not admit to drinking alcohol.
  • Do not agree to field sobriety tests.
  • Do not submit to a roadside breath test, unless you are instructed to pull over and they have equipment on-site to take an official breath, blood or urine sample.

What Should You Do If You Are Arrested?

The officer may decide to take you into custody anyway:

  • Remain cooperative but exercise your right to remain silent. You can't talk your way out of this.
  • Repeat your request to contact an attorney.
  • Do not refuse the official chemical test (blood, breath or urine sample) back at the station. Refusing will automatically revoke your driver's license for one year, no matter what happens in your criminal case. We have much better odds of challenging the test results or basis for the traffic stop than fighting a license suspension for refusal.

Have You Already Been Arrested For DUI?

We understand that you may be reading this after the fact. If you or your family member has been arrested, you should still contact us immediately. Even if you gave incriminating statements, submitted to field sobriety tests or blew into the portable Breathalyzer, there are many defenses to avoid a conviction or limit its impact, whether this is your first DUI or a repeat offense.

Did You Refuse The Chemical Test?

Perhaps you were scared, had bad advice or the alcohol affected your judgment. It may not be too late to correct your mistake. Mr. Patrick can often get to the arresting officer before he/she reports your refusal to the state licensing authorities (PennDOT) to avoid the automatic suspension. We can then defend your DUI case and license suspension on their merits.

If you refused a chemical test and your license was suspended, you may be eligible for an occupational limited license (OLL), which helps drivers, such as commercial drivers, maintain their ability to drive while they serve a license suspension.

What Alerts Police To Drunk Drivers? Speed Is Not The Only One.

The following is a list of actions that indicate to a police officer that the driver is intoxicated, based upon research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  1. Making a wider than necessary turn
  2. Failing to drive in between the lines of your lane
  3. "Appearing to be drunk"
  4. Almost hitting any object or another vehicle
  5. Weaving or failing to drive straight
  6. Driving on other than designated highway
  7. Swerving
  8. Speed more than 10 mph below limit
  9. Stopping without cause in a traffic lane
  10. Following too closely or tailgating
  11. Drifting
  12. Driving over the center line, or driving over the fog line
  13. Braking erratically
  14. Driving into opposing or crossing traffic
  15. Failing to signal before turning or changing lanes
  16. Slow response to traffic signals
  17. Stopping inappropriately (other than in lane)
  18. Turning abruptly or illegally
  19. Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
  20. Driving without headlights on (at night or in the rain)

Note that excessive speed is NOT a strong indicator of intoxication.

Regardless Of The Time, You Should Talk To A Lawyer About Your DUI

The need to talk to an attorney arises the moment police stop you. We know that you may be pulled over at any time of the day, which is why we answer our phones 24/7 at 717-303-3042 and routinely check our email messages.