With one bar for every 7,851 people in Washington, thousands of people leave bars and drive home daily. No one expects to be stopped by police. What you say and do during a traffic stop can impact your case. This post outlines how to respond to law enforcement in a Washington DUI traffic stop.
Stop Your Car and Pull Over
If you have committed a traffic violation, police can legally stop you. Washington State Police has made fighting driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol a priority an effort to prevent automobile deaths. You can expect a police officer to stop you if you have given any indication of driving under the influence. The first question the officer will ask is likely to be a request for your license, your registration, and your proof of insurance. You must supply these documents upon request. He or she will take your documents to the police car to document the stop.
Speaking to the Officer: Less is More, or Remain Silent
You are not compelled to say anything when you are pulled over. According to Federal Law, you do not have to speak if you are concerned what you say will incriminate you. If the officer asks you questions, the more you speak, the higher the probability of you exacerbating the situation. Maintain a polite demeanor and do not become combative. As the officer asks more questions, continue to repeat that you continue to decline to answer, saying that it is your right NOT to say anything at all.
Decline Roadside Tests
There are several common roadside tests police officers will impose on drivers. You do NOT have to submit to these. Respectfully inform the officer that you are refusing the tests. In relative terms, even sober people fail these tests; roadside tests are not designed to be successfully completed. Just say no, thank you to the police officer.
Washington DUI Breath or Blood Test
You are required to take a blood or breath test under Washington's implied consent law. Be advised though that you can refuse but you could be signing away your license for at least one year. What's more is, your refusal can create problems for you in court. When you have been involved in a serious accident resulting in a death or serious injury, or if you are unconscious, the officer is not required to get your consent to draw your blood. Before you say or do anything, exercise your right to speak to an attorney. Police cannot refuse you this request.
Key Points to Remember
- There is no upside to agreeing to the portable or roadside breath test. Police use this as another tool to determine if there is probable cause to arrest you. It's best to politely refuse.
- Everything said and done during an arrest may be part of your DUI defense. Listen and make note of what the officer tells you and what he or she does.
If you were arrested for drunk driving, time is not on your side. Schedule a consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to learn your rights and get all your questions answered.