What To Do When Pulled Over for Drinking and Driving

You’re driving home after a night out and you’ve had one too many drinks. You see the flashing blue and red lights in the rear view and think – what should you do?

Of course, the best practice is to not drink too much and drive, but mistakes happen.

There’s no full-proof plan to prevent an arrest once you’re pulled over. However, you can take actions to help protect you from arrest and help your attorney later defend your case in court.

The main thing to keep in mind is a police officer who suspects you of drunk driving is collecting evidence against you. This means the guiding principle to follow is limit the evidence you give to the police officer.

Once you see the flashing lights, pull over as soon as it is safe. Use your turn signal, and get all the way off the road so the officer can safely approach your car. 

The Investigation

Do not admit to drinking. Doesn’t matter if you smell like a gin distillery. Doesn’t matter if you’ve had half a thimble. The prosecutor will use admissions of drinking  against you.

Not saying to lie. It’s better to just not have a conversation with the office. Respectfully decline to answer questions. 

The less you say the better. You always have the right to tell the police officer you respectfully decline to answer questions.

The police officer may ask you to perform field sobriety tests. These tests are coordination exercises used to determine your level of impairment. Decline to take these tests. Performing field sobriety tests only provides evidence of impairment, as there are a hundred different ways to “fail” a sobriety test. There is no penalty for refusing these tests.

Refuse the Preliminary Breath Test

The police officer may ask you to take a preliminary breath test. A PBT is a small portable device that a gives a crude reading of your blood alcohol content. The police officer can arrest you based on the results of the PBT alone. Refuse to take this test.

Refusal of the preliminary breath test is a zero-point civil infraction. The money for the fine will be well spent if it helps avoid an arrest and adds to the defense in your case.

Declining the sobriety tests and the preliminary breath test will help eliminate probable cause for the police to arrest you, and give your attorney ammunition to challenge the validity of the arrest and defend you in trial.

Comply with the police officer’s requests with the exceptions outlined above. You of course want to avoid a resisting arrest charge. For example, if the officer requests for you to get out of the car, do so when asked. Be polite and courteous. Remember that most police officers are simply trying to do their best.

Take the Second Test Offered

You may still be arrested at this point. The police will request that you take a breath or blood test under the Implied Consent Law.

The Implied Consent Law provides steep penalties for drivers who refuse to take a breath or blood test when requested by the police. The driver who refuses the test faces a year-long license suspension.

The police will likely be able to obtain a warrant to draw your blood even if you refuse the requested test. Therefore, refusal of the test at this point will hold few advantages and only consequences. You may ask the police to make a phone call to your attorney.

Often, a person who has an unlawful blood alcohol content has been pulled over for a technical driving violation, rather than for actual impaired driving. When this is the case, declining to provide evidence of impairment as outlined above can be helpful to avoid arrest and to allow your attorney to challenge the case in Court.

Get in Touch

Contact ArborYpsi Law at 734-883-9584 or at bernstein@arborypsilaw.com to speak with attorney Sam Bernstein for more information about operating while intoxicated or other drinking and driving crimes in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Plymouth, and in greater metro Detroit.

Contact Us at 734-883-9584

Call Sam Bernstein at 734-883-9584 or e-mail at bernstein@arborypsilaw.com.

Sam Bernstein is a drinking and driving lawyer in Ann Arbor.

ArborYpsi Law is located at 2750 Carpenter Rd #2, Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

Read More The Steps in an OWI Case, DUI Penalties, and What to do After a DUI Arrest.

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