I Just Got Pulled Over and I Have Been Drinking. What Should I Do?
This guide explains the things you should know if you find yourself being investigated for DWI in Missouri.
What to Do when the Emergency Lights Come On1. When the emergency lights come on, pull over to the right as soon as you can. If there is a side street coming up, take it. Allow enough room for the officer to pull in behind you. If there isn't a side street, pull over onto the shoulder and pull off the roadway as far as possible. Slow your speed right away so the officer knows you are looking for a place to pull over.
2. Always use your turn signal before pulling over.
3. Place your vehicle in park. Leave you vehicle running until told to turn it off.
4. Have your driver's license, proof of registration, and proof of insurance ready when the officer approaches your vehicle and have your window already rolled down. Not being able to produce those items upon demand is often used as evidence of your intoxication.
5. If you have a tape recording APP on your cell phone, turn it on and put it in your shirt, jacket or coat pocket before the officer gets to your window. It is not illegal to tape record a police officer in Missouri. If you don't have an APP, download one. Most police vehicles are not equipped with recording devices, and body cameras are not yet in wide use. Even if your encounter is recorded, too often, there are video and audio tape "malfunctions" with police equipment.
6. Tell you passengers to keep their mouths shut. The officer does not want to hear from them unless he or she asks them a question.
7. If you have gum in your mouth when you are pulled over, the officer will try to claim that you were chewing gum to mask the odor. Get rid of it. Same for cigarettes. Put them out. Nothing will piss the cops off more than having you blowing smoke in their faces.
8. Always be sure to keep you hands where the officer can see them. Don't make any sudden movements or they could be your last. Have you license, registration and proof of insurance in your left hand. Wait until the officer asks for them before handing them off.
Contact with the Police Officer9. Be polite. Being argumentative or belligerent is a sure ticket to jail. Neither judges nor juries are sympathetic to people who are assholes. If one of your drunk passengers starts mouthing off, politely tell them to shut the **** up or they will be walking home. Of course, If things go badly for you, that is a possibility anyway.
10. If you are asked if you have been drinking, politely respond that you would prefer not to answer any questions without your attorney being present. Don't let the officer push you into answering. You have rights.
11. Say as little as possible. The more you open you mouth, the more likely you will say something that will hurt your case. This is not the time to be "chatty," make jokes, or ask questions. Do not try to make friends with the officer. The officer doesn't care that you like the same NASCAR driver. As Chris Rock said in his video, "How Not to Get Your Ass Kicked by the Police, "shut the **** up!" In my experience, there is absolutely nothing you can say that will change the mind of an officer who has decided you are under the influence of alcohol.
Exit from Vehicle12. If the officer asks you to step out of your vehicle, walk to the patrol car, and have a seat in the front passenger seat, you must do so. Troopers do this as a matter of course. Do not use your vehicle or the patrol car for balance, however. Keep your hands off.
13. Once inside the patrol car, do not try to mask your breath with your hand, roll down the window, or purposefully look away from the officer. The officer has already smelled the odor of intoxicants coming from your breath. It is not illegal to drive with the smell of alcoholic beverages on your breath.
Field Sobriety Tests14. If asked to take a portable breath test ("PBT"), ask the officer to confirm that the test is voluntary. It is, by the way. Politely tell the officer that you have heard that PBTs are unreliable and politely refuse. The case law in Missouri clearly establishes their unreliability.
15. If asked to perform any other field sobriety tests, such as the eye test ("HGN"), walk and turn, one leg stand, counting, alphabet, or finger count tests, I would once again ask the officer to acknowledge that these tests are voluntary, and then politely refuse to take any field sobriety tests without the advice of counsel. You do not need to offer any explanation.
What to Do After Arrest16. After you are arrested, do not plead for mercy or ask the officer to "cut you a break." Do not ask the officer let you call your mama or another drunk friend to come pick you up. Dropping the names of fellow troopers, deputies or municipal police officers won't work, either. Nor does telling the officer you are going to lose your CDL or job. Remember, shut the **** up!
17. If the police want to ask you any questions, they are required to read your Miranda Rights. You have the right to remain silent. Use it. Politely tell the officer you will not answer any questions without a lawyer present.
18. The officer is required to read you the Implied Consent Warnings. These warnings are to inform you that if you refuse to submit to a test of your breath or blood for alcohol, your refusal to do so will be admissible as evidence in court and your license will be revoked for one year.
19. Ask for 20 minutes to contact and speak with your attorney when that happens. That is a statutory right that the cops don't have to tell you about. Always have the cell phone number and home number of an attorney who practices in this area of the law and who will answer the phone in the middle of the night.
20. If you have had very little or nothing to drink, take the breath test. Be sure to inform the officer if you happen to burp, belch or regurgitate during the 15 - 20 minutes immediately prior to the breath test. If you believe you have had too much to drink, you really need to talk to your lawyer because what happens next depends on the county you are in when you are arrested. Every county is different. In some places, if you refuse, even on a first offense, the cop will get a warrant for your blood and the Department of Revenue will try to both revoke you for refusing and when your blood test comes back over the legal limit, revoke you again for excessive BAC.