The Los Angeles DUI Law Blog

What to Do When Pulled Over for a DUI: Three Tips

The berry is flashin' those high beams. Red and blue strobe lights blind you through your mirrors. Your heart is racing as you pull over to the side of the freeway. You had two beers, but you certainly aren't drunk ... right?

What should you do? Keep in mind these common sense tips as you try to avoid a night in jail.

Shut Up

When you are pulled over, you are not technically under arrest. That means the officer doesn't have to read you the Miranda Rights or warn you not to incriminate yourself. In fact, he just might try to get you to incriminate yourself. He'll ask you such questions as:

  • Have you been drinking tonight?
  • How are you feeling?
  • Where are you coming from?
  • Do you feel the effects of the alcohol?

Often, a smart answer to all of these questions is silence. The officer's goal is to either get you to admit that you've just come from a seven-keg frat party or to get you to talk excessively so that he can smell the Jack Daniels on your breath. Provide your license, registration, and proof of insurance. Some drivers have found it helpful to not volunteer extra information.

Sit Tight

The officer is going to want you to perform field sobriety tests. This will include all manners of walking, standing on one foot, etc. You are not required to do so under California law. The thing about these tests is that the officer has to subjectively judge your performance on the tests. A good answer to a request to perform field sobriety tests might be "No thank you. These tests are too subjective and not required by California law."

If the officer requests that you submit to a pocket-Breathalyzer, also known as a preliminary alcohol screening device, you should consider passing on the PAS test as well. It's an often inaccurate test that can help build a case against you. Instead, you'll probably end up having to consent to a real Breathalyzer or blood test.

Choose Blood or Breath Wisely

This is the hardest part. Under the Implied Consent Law, you'll have to choose one or the other. If you choose breath, you'll get out of there sooner, especially if below the legal limit. It's also less accurate. If you choose blood, you get a more accurate test that takes weeks to process. This means you'll probably spend the night in the drunk tank.

On final hint: be calm, cool, collected and polite. That will help get you back on your way if the officer finds no reason to hold you. If not, hang tough, and maybe give your attorney a little call.

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