Impaired driving is something that law enforcement officials take very seriously in Pennsylvania. If you, your family, or your friends are going out to have some drinks, or if you need to drive home after drinking at someone else’s home, it is always best to have a designated driver or to take a rideshare to your destination. However, what if you do get pulled over for drunk driving?
Here, we want to discuss your rights if you have been pulled over for allegedly drinking and driving. You have rights during traffic stops, and when you are armed with this information, you will be able to take the appropriate steps to ensure that these rights are upheld.
Steps to Take if Pulled Over for Suspected DUI
If you are pulled over by a law enforcement official, and they suspect that you have been drinking, you are likely going to get arrested. There is nothing you and say or do at the scene that will change this. However, there are steps you can take to help protect yourself.
If you have been pulled over in Pennsylvania and the police suspect you have been drinking, you need to remain as calm as possible. This is easier said than done, but it is important that you make no sudden movements that could result in the police thinking you intend them harm. Treat the officer with respect and courtesy as you go through the interaction.
It is very important that you say as little as possible so that you do not incriminate yourself. Police officers will rely on a person’s anxiety to help them make their case. You will be required to provide your name, license, and vehicle registration to the police. If the police officer asks you if you have been drinking or where you have been, politely tell the officer that you have been advised not to answer any questions.
Do not discuss where you were, who you were with, or whether or not you were drinking. Remianing silent or politely refusing to answer questions is not an admission of guilt. This is a right.
Refuse roadside DUI tests
There are a variety of field sobriety tests that the police officer may ask you to perform. These tests are designed to help the officer develop probable cause to make a DUI arrest. The most commonly administered field sobriety tests in Pennsylvania include the one-leg stand, walk-and-turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.
These tests are subjective, and you have no legal duty to submit to them after you have been pulled over. You can politely refuse. However, a refusal will likely provide the police with an indication that you have a guilty state of mind, and a refusal will likely result in an arrest.
On the other hand, in the absence of any other indications authentication, a person who passes a field sobriety test in Pennsylvania should, theoretically, be allowed to proceed without an arrest.
A preliminary breath test
A preliminary “informal” breath test is different than a formal chemical test administered after a person has been arrested for DUI. The whole purpose of a preliminary breath test that occurs before an arrest is to give the police officer evidence to use against you to make the arrest. You are not obligated under Pennsylvania law to submit to a preliminary test. However, if you are arrested, you will have to submit to chemical testing at the police station or processing center.
If you refuse a chemical breath test after being arrested, you could lose your license for 12 to 18 months, regardless of the outcome of the DUI charges.
Contact a skilled DUI defense attorney
It is crucial that you contact a skilled Pennsylvania DUI attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can get involved early in the case and begin to formulate your defense. Your attorney will examine the facts leading up to your arrest, the police procedures during the arrest, and more. There are time-sensitive procedures that need to be completed early after an arrest occurs. You want an attorney present at your preliminary hearing, and there are various avenues that an attorney can explore when it comes to ensuring your rights are upheld.