Avoid a DWI: Know Your Rights

There are certain things every driver should know in the event they get pulled over for driving while intoxicated (DWI). It is dangerous and illegal to drive while intoxicated but you still have rights and options if a police offer catches you doing so.

Answering Questions
You are obligated to provide the police officer your driver’s license and registration when you get pulled over for DWI. However, the fifth amendment of the Constitution gives you the right not to incriminate yourself. The officer will most likely ask you how many drinks you’ve had and a number of other questions. Even if you are completely sober, the process of getting pulled over for a DWI can make you nervous. That nervous energy can lead to problems like stuttering or misspeaking which may make you appear under the influence. You have the right to remain completely silent which will restrict the officer from reporting that you were incoherent or slurring.

Stay in Your Car
Police officers are trained to be highly defensive and on guard if a motorist gets out of their vehicle without being asked to do so. Stay in your car and wait for the officer to approach. Any quick or evasive movements will most likely give the officer a reason to handcuff you and will add credence to an accusation of intoxication. If you get out of your car at all it should be only after an officer asks you to.

Field Sobriety Tests
A field sobriety test is not actually a test. In reality, it is a subjective exercise a police officer uses to determine if, in his opinion, you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Most states do not require motorists to submit to field sobriety tests. However, if you know you’re sober and can breeze through the hand-eye coordination exercises, it is usually best to cooperate with them.

Chemical Testing
Breath, blood or other chemical testing is required when requested by a police officer. When you got your driver’s license you agreed to comply with such sobriety tests as part of your driving privileges. Even if you were not driving while intoxicated, refusing to submit to chemical testing can carry consequences such as license suspension and fines.

A DWI is a serious offense and getting pulled over for one can be stressful. By knowing your rights and what is expected of you the process of getting pulled over for a DWI can go much smoother.

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