How to Protect your Rights During a DUI Traffic Stop

Rolling Meadows Criminal Law Attorney

How to Protect your Rights During a DUI Traffic Stop, Rolling Meadows DUI defense attorneyIn Illinois and the rest of the United States, it is illegal to operate a vehicle if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher. For individuals driving commercial vehicles, the legal limit is 0.04 percent. If you are found driving with a BAC at this level, you can be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI).

A DUI conviction can have penalties that impact your life for years after the initial arrest. These include fines, insurance surcharges, and lengthy driver’s license suspensions. In some cases, penalties for a DUI conviction can also include jail time. If you are pulled over for allegedly driving drunk, how you conduct yourself during the traffic stop can have a significant impact on whether you are charged with DUI and ultimately, whether you are convicted. Know your rights, such as your Miranda rights, during the stop and assert them at all times. The officer might attempt to coax you into admitting that you had been drinking by behaving in a conversational manner – do not fall for this. You have the right to remain silent during interactions with law enforcement, you have the right to refuse to complete a field sobriety test, and you have the right to decline an officer’s request to search your vehicle without a valid search warrant or reasonable suspicion for the search.

What to Expect During a DUI Traffic Stop

Expect the officer may say something that would allow you to incriminate yourself. One common trick is to ask a driver, “how much did you have to drink tonight?” You might think the correct answer is something that downplays how much you drank, such as stating that you had only one beer, but this is incorrect. Do not admit to consuming any alcohol.

Expect instructions, such as a request that you step out of the vehicle or that you provide the officer with your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration. Follow these instructions.

You can also expect to be read your Miranda warning, which states that you have the right to remain silent during interactions with law enforcement. You can also expect a truthful answer from police if you ask whether a requested task, such as a field sobriety test, is mandatory or voluntary.

You Can Refuse a Field Sobriety Test, you Cannot Refuse a Breathalyzer

Although you technically can refuse a chemical BAC test, which is generally conducted with an electronic device known as a Breathalyzer, it is not in your best interest to do so. Refusing a chemical test can result in a one-year suspension of your driver’s license.

Field sobriety tests, on the other hand, can legally be refused. In fact, you should refuse to complete these tests if you are asked to complete them because they are designed to incriminate you. Even perfectly sober drivers can easily fail roadside sobriety tests because not only are they fairly difficult, but the stress of being pulled over and having to complete physical tasks next to moving traffic and the siren lights of the police cruiser can make it impossible to fully comprehend the officer’s instructions and complete the tasks.

Field sobriety tests often include the following:

  • One-leg stand. In this test, the driver is required to balance on one leg;
  • Horizontal gaze. This test requires the driver to follow a beam of light with his or her eye while the officer checks for sudden muscular jerks in the eye; and
  • Walk and turn. In this test, the driver takes nine heel-to-toe steps in a straight line, then turns on one foot and walks back in the same manner.

Tips for Interacting with Law Enforcement During a DUI Traffic Stop

During your interaction with an officer, be polite, yet firm when asserting your rights. You are not required to provide the officer with anything other than your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of automobile insurance. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Do not admit to drinking. When asked, provide neutral answers or no answers at all;
  • Do not admit to any other illegal activity, such as speeding or driving with an expired registration sticker on your vehicle;
  • Do not be aggressive or belligerent; and
  • Stay in the vehicle unless the officer asks you to exit.

Work with an Experienced Rolling Meadows DUI Attorney

Many people mistakenly assume that a DUI arrest automatically means a DUI conviction. This is not true. You absolutely can have your charge dropped with the right defense strategy and in nearly all circumstances; you absolutely should try for this goal. To learn more about fighting a DUI charge, speak with experienced Rolling Meadows DUI defense attorney Donald J. Cosley at Cosley Law Office. Contact our office today to schedule your initial legal consultation.

  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Northwest Suburban Bar Association

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