Written by attorney John Scott Swimmer

Nine Steps to Follow If You Are Stopped For Drunk Driving in Wisconsin

Here are the ten steps you should follow when stopped for drunk driving.

First, remain calm and be nice! You cannot help yourself by getting mad, crying, or yelling at the police officer. Know that police officers are trained, perhaps overtrained to look for drunk drivers. They start with the presumption that you are driving under the influence.

Second, you should have all of your driving information: registration and insurance information in a colored envelope or rubber-banded together. Your driver's license should be in an easily accessed area of your purse or wallet. Do not get out of the car unless the officer tells you to get out, and keep your hands on the steering wheel in plain sight. You should avoid talking any more than absolutely necessary. The police will use every word you say against you. The police are looking to arrest you. You are not their friend. You have the right to remain silent "use it." You are not talking your way out of a drunk driving charge. Every day you see celebrities and politicians charged so if they can't talk their way out neither can you.

Third, you may be asked the following questions: "Do you know why I pulled you over?" Just say "no." You don't have to answer. This question is designed to get you to admit that you were speeding or that you went through a red light. This gives them probably cause to pull you over and just makes it harder for your attorney to get the stop throw out. Simply answer "no." Often cases are won or lost depending whether the officer can defend the reason he or she pulled you over. You may be asked where you are going or what you are doing out so late. Remain silent or just answer, "I'd rather not say." You do not have to answer their questions.

Fourth, you may be asked "How much have you had to drink?" or just generally "Have you been drinking?" Again, the answer is "I'd rather not answer." If you admit to drinking, you hurt yourself. If you lie, you hurt yourself. Just politely say, "I have the right to remain silent." If the officer asks you how much you've had to drink, you should simply say "I am exercising my right to remain silent." Saying "I forget" implies that you were drinking and that you were drinking so much you can't remember. Saying "a few beers" or something similar is admitting that you were drinking, which helps let the officer arrest you and take you for a blood test. Even if it is obvious that you have been drinking, you should not help the police make the case against you.

Fifth, at some point, you will be asked to step out of your car. You should comply. You should shut and lock your car door. You will likely be challenged about this and asked if you have something to hide. I cannot say this enough but once again, silence is golden: "I'd rather not say." The officer may say "You don't mind if I take a look, do you?" Your response is: "No. you cannot search my car."

Sixth, the police will threaten to impound your car, but if you have alcohol on your breath, you're going to spend the night in jail anyway. Plus, impounding is much cheaper than a DUI/OUI/OWI fine, court costs, and the losing your driver's license. If the officer asks you to open any part of your car, the best response is simply, "are you asking me or telling me?" If he says he is asking, refuse. If he says he is telling you, then you should demand that he get a warrant for the search.

Seventh, the officer may start telling you to do sobriety tests. You are not required to do field sobriety tests (such as following a pen with your eyes, standing on one leg, walking on a line, or saying the alphabet). You should not perform field sobriety tests. The officer will not tell you that you are allowed to refuse. The officer will simply tell you to do them. The only reason the officer asks you to do them is so that when you fail one or more, it can go in the police report as additional evidence of your intoxication. You would probably fail at least one of them when sober anyway. Do not say "I couldn't do this sober!" as that will be taken as admission that you are drunk. Simply say "I do not want to do any field tests."

Eight, you may next be asked to blow into a handheld portable breathalyzer. This is called a "preliminary breath test." You will refuse to take this test. It is like a field sobriety test as well - you do not have to do it. Consenting to the test allows the officer to put your failure in his report and beef up his probable cause to arrest you for DUI/OWI/OUI. Remember: you cannot lose your license for refusing to take a preliminary breath test.

Nine, in all likelihood, you will end up being transported to the police station or hospital for a blood test. As a general rule, you should consent to the blood test. You should ask for a second blood sample be drawn and stored so you can later arrange an independent test is likely the best you can hope for under the circumstances. It is unlikely that the police will agree to have the blood drawn at a separate facility during the course of your interaction with them.

If you refuse the blood test, you will be charged. You will also lose your license for an additional year (in addition to any DUI/OWI/OUI-related loss of license). If you are under .08, you will likely be released. If not, you will be arrested and charged with DUI/OWI/OUI.

If you follow these Nine steps, you will be bullied and threatened by the police. They will not be happy with you. They will tow your car. They will tell you that they won't let you go home that night. But remember it is better to do one night in jail beat your charge rather than sitting several days or months in jail and paying thousands of dollars in fines and fees.

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