Image by Scott Graham

WHAT TO DO IF PULLED OVER FOR DUI

THE BEST ADVICE

What Should I Do If I Am Stopped For DUI?


If you are stopped by law enforcement and believe you will be investigated for DUI, your goal is to provide the government with as little evidence as possible.

Pass the “Attitude Test.” Be respectful. Let the cops know will not give them a problem. Say “Sir” and “Ma’am.” If you don’t remember anything else, remember this. Cooperate, cooperate, cooperate. Cooperation means having a good attitude and being polite. It doesn’t mean answering questions or doing field tests or talking. Your attitude, appearance and words all become part of the investigating officer’s report. Your disposition indicates your level of intoxication. An officer will always ask for your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance, as these are the legal things you must provide upon request.




What Should I Say If A Police Officer Starts Asking Questions?


During a DUI stop, the police will ask questions, such as “Do you know why I pulled you over tonight?” “Have you had anything to drink?” “How much have you had to drink?” “When did you have your last drink?” Officers may seem to be making conversation when they are really analyzing what you say and how you say it.

These questions are designed to collect evidence against you. If nothing else, they want you to talk to them in order to see whether you are slurring your speech. Do not talk to the police, whether you are in your car, on the side of the road, in the police cruiser, at the jail, or in front of a magistrate. When asked a direct question, respond with a polite but brief ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The less you speak, the less the officer can report that you may have slurred speech. It also becomes more difficult for the officer to detect the odor of alcohol on your breath.

Whether the officer is friendly or confrontational, you have to be polite at all times. Your best response would be to decline to answer the questions. You have the right to remain silent — exercise it.

You want to leave no question that you are asserting your right to remain silent. Use clear language and speak with authority, and respectful while saying it. You might want to use one of the following phrases:

  • I am invoking my right to remain silent.
  • I am choosing to remain silent.
  • I invoke my right to remain silent and I refuse to answer any questions.

Remember, be polite and cooperative, but that doesn’t mean answering any questions or admitting you had anything to drink, and do not say anything other than ‘yes’ or ‘no’ if asked a direct question.




Should I perform Field Sobriety Tests?


Do not take any field sobriety test which includes walking on a straight line, standing on one foot, putting your finger to your nose, etc. These tests are designed to make you fail. The field sobriety tests are subjective and can easily be used against you even if you think you can pass them.

When an officer pulls you over, they have already started a DUI investigation and suspect you are intoxicated, and looking for ways to prove their case. Field sobriety tests are not mandatory and there are no penalties for refusing to perform them. For this reason, you should exercise your right to refuse to perform these tests.




Should I Take A Preliminary Breath Test (PBT)?


The Preliminary Breath Test, or (PBT), is a hand-held breath test, no bigger than a remote control and it’s performed on the road side and is used to establish probable cause for a DUI arrest and it is performed before a driver is arrested.

The officer will try to talk you into it saying it cannot be used as evidence in court. While that is somewhat correct, it is not used as to whether or not you are in fact intoxicated, but it can be used in court to determine probable cause, whether or not it was a legal arrest for DUI.

There are no legal penalties if you refuse to take a PBT,




Can I Get A DUI In Virginia If I Wasn't Driving?


Under Virginia law, you may be charged with DUI as long as there was the possibility of you operating the vehicle. This means that things like sleeping in your car or sitting in the driver's seat with the keys in your pocket can lead to DUI charges if you are found to have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.




How Is An Intoxilyzer Different From A Preliminary Breath Test (PBT)?


By Virtue of your operation of a motor vehicle on a highway in Virginia, you have already consented to taking a breath test back at the station. This is often done on a larger machine called the Intoximeter.

This breath test machine at the station is a larger, more accurate breathalyzer. They are about the size of a shoebox and have a keyboard and printer attached.

It is important to note, you can refuse the handheld breathalyzer (PBT) on the side of the road without any legal penalty. However, If you can refuse the Intoxilyzer test you will be charged with another offense –unreasonable refusal. Prior to charging refusal of this test, the officer must advise you of the consequences of refusal. A first offense is a civil punishment that is punishable by only a 1 year license suspension. Second and third offenses become criminal and can be punished by jail time. Additionally, your license will be taken for additional periods of time.




Is It Legal For The Police To Search A Drivers Vehicle?


If a law enforcement officer asks, politely explain that you will not agree to a search of your vehicle. If an officer has probable cause to obtain a search warrant, they will. If not, then why search? Say no, politely, but firmly and don’t elaborate and hope your refusal is noted in the report regarding their investigation.




What If The Officer Did Not Read Me My Miranda Rights?


An officer is only required to give the Miranda rights or warnings before questioning you after you have been taken into custody, but anything you say during a traffic stop could be used as evidence against you. The officer will get all the evidence they need for their case before you’re actually in custody, such as judging your appearance and how you answer their questions, . Then how you perform on field sobriety tests and the handheld breath test.

Only after all that ( In Virginia you have no right to an attorney during those tests) are you normally placed into custody. That’s when your Miranda rights should be read to you.

Although exercising this right can lead to an awkward moment, keeping quiet is typically advisable if the words out of your mouth could be considered an admission of illegal activity. Drivers who don’t want to talk can just tell the officer they’re invoking the right to remain silent.





The only guaranteed way to avoid a DUI charge or conviction is to simply not drink and drive. Even if you plan on just having a fewdrinks over dinner, just take a cab or Uber home. It takes all the liability off of you, and it makes the roads safer for everyone. Nothing in this guide should be construed as condoning drinking and driving. Ignorance, however, is not a virtue. And if you find yourself being pulled over for suspected DUI, you should know your rights and the best course of action

Facing Your DUI Charge

Consult a criminal defense attorney immediately. If you followed this guide, you politely refused to answer any questions, you refused the PBT, and you politely refused the field sobriety tests. Your attorney now has the ammunition needed to challenge the probable cause of the arrest.

119 S. Kent St. 

Winchester, VA 22601

Quick Links

Tidbits of Advice

DISCLAIMER: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. 

  • Facebook