Get your license and registration out; and roll down the window. By accomplishing these tasks before the officer gets to the window, you demonstrate you are not mentally or physically impaired. People who are under the influence think slower and fumble with simple, every day tasks. Show you are not impaired by thinking ahead of the officer and accomplishing simple tasks demonstrating your fine motor coordination is in tact: Roll down the window, locate your license, remove your license from your wallet, locate your registration, remove your registration from the glove box, etc.
Ask the Officer Why You Were Stopped
Again, think ahead of the officer to demonstrate you are not under the influence. Also, knowing exactly why you were stopped will be a big help when consulting with attorneys regarding your case.
Do Not Answer Any Questions Regarding Your Alcohol Consumption
Like most good people, you will want to be honest and cooperative with the police officer. I strongly urge you, however, to politely decline to answer any questions related to what you had to drink, when you were drinking, etc. You may have a defense based on your drinking history. But you could lose that defense if you accidentally give the officer an incorrect drinking history. Besides, you have the right to remain silent. Use it!
Exit the Vehicle Without Using the Door
No matter how tempting it is, do not use your vehicle's door to support you during your exit. Officers are trained to observe how you exit the vehicle. Using the door when you exit is considered a sign of intoxication.
Walk to the Field Sobriety Testing Area Without Seeking Support
The field sobriety testing area is usually between your vehicle and the officer's squad. Although the atmosphere may seem casual, do not touch anyone or anything as you walk to the field sobriety testing area. Officers are trained to observe whether you use your vehicle or anything else for balance. Make no mistake: This is not a casual situation. Do not be casual.
The Field Sobriety Tests
Whether you take the field sobriety tests is up to you. But consider that not doing the field sobriety tests is often misconstrued by judges and juries as evidence of guilt. Also, whether you cooperate with the police will be taken into consideration during plea negotiations and sentencing. Stay tuned for a future guide(s) regarding how to take the field sobriety tests.
Be cooperative and polite. Do not resist verbally or physically. What you do at this point will be taken into consideration during plea negotiations and sentencing.
The Evidentiary Blood Alcohol Concentration Test
After the arrest, the officer will read a form stating s/he wants to test your breath or blood for alcohol. It is against the law to refuse. BUT, consider the following when making your decision: The penalties for refusing are better in IL IF THIS IS YOUR FIRST DUI. For a refusal, IL will impose a 6-month license suspension. If you take the test, have a blood alcohol concentration over .08, and are convicted of DUI or driving with over .08, IL will revoke your license; and that revocation is presumed LIFETIME. You can get a restricted driving permit, but you must do an assessment and complete treatment. And then, you must have the restricted driving permit for at least 9 months before IL will consider reinstating your license. Although you have to do the assessment and treatment for a restricted permit on a refusal also, look at the difference: 6-month suspension v. presumed lifetime revocation. Your choice is obvious (but I cannot tell you to do something illegal.)
Politely Refuse to Answer Any Questions
After the evidentiary test phase, the officer will (finally) give you Miranda. Politely refuse to answer the officer's questions. Again, you have the right to remain silent. Use it. By answering the officer's questions, you may inadvertently give up your defenses.
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