I’ve been charged with a DWI/DUI.
So, you’ve been out to dinner with friends, had a glass or two of wine or maybe a couple of beers. While driving home you notice blue lights behind you and you pull over. Your adrenaline starts surging, your pulse quickens and your hands start to sweat. After the involuntary reaction, what should you do? How to protect yourself from a DWI/DUI conviction?
- Be polite – don’t argue. Not only is it an argument you can’t win, it pays to be nice.
- Keep your driving documents (i.e., license, insurance card and registration) current and easily accessible. When the officer approaches your driver’s side window, have them ready to present.
- Officer’s are trained to ask you questions designed to elicit incriminating responses, e.g., “Do you know why I stopped you?” A reply like “yes, I was going too fast” pretty much seals up probable cause for the stop. You are not obligated to answer any questions other than to identify yourself. The best response to initial police inquiries, including, “Have you been drinking?”, is a polite “I don’t believe I am obligated to answer your questions.”
- Don’t exit your vehicle until and unless you are instructed to do so by an officer.
- If you are over 21, you are not required to take a preliminary breath test (PBT) at roadside or to perform field sobriety tests (FSTs) like the walk and turn or one-leg stand. Whether you decide to provide a sample for testing at roadside or to attempt the dexterity exercises is up to you. The evidence gathered from the preliminary breath test or field sobriety tests are often incriminating. Failure to take either a PBT or FST may be admitted against you at subsequent hearing as evidence of your “consciousness of guilt.”
- If, despite the above, you are arrested as a DWI/DUI suspect, submit to the officer’s request to be handcuffed without resistance, threats or hostility.
- Do not waive your right to remain silent and do not agree to answer questions. Once you are taken back to the police station, the officer will read to you from the following form: Show me the form.
When the officer asks if you would like to speak to him/her, say, politely, “No.”
Next the officer will read you the following: Show me the form.
When the officer asks if you’d like to speak to an attorney, say “Yes.” Even if you do not have your own lawyer, or if you’re having trouble waking up your attorney, Vermont’s public defenders provide knowledgeable DWI advice to suspects 24/7.
FOLLOW YOUR LAWYER’S ADVICE!
- If the officer is going to charge you with DWI/DUI, s/he will give you a citation to appear in court. If you took an evidentiary breath test and blew .08 or higher or if you refused to take a test, s/he will also give you two copies of a Notice of Intention to Suspend your license, one white and one yellow. Show me the form.
Send in the white copy to the address on the back of the form to preserve all your legal rights before the deadline on the front of the form. Show me the form.