This guide provides helpful information on what to do when you have been drinking and are stopped for DUI.
Quickly and Safely Pull Over
When you notice you are being stopped by law enforcement, quickly and safely pull your vehicle to the side of the road, if safe to do so. Do not delay pulling over so that you can pull into a parking lot or some other off-road area. This arises suspicion in law enforcement and often makes them uneasy if the location you park your vehicle is not viewable to the public. If the officer wants you to move your vehicle, he or she will request that you do so. Make sure that you don't exhibit any "bad driving" such as swerving or striking the curb when you pull to the side of the road. Any bad driving will be used as evidence against you.
Be Respectful and Cooperative, for the most part
It is important that you are respectful of the officer and cooperative with his requests. While you are not required to tell the officer whether you have been drinking if he asks, be aware that police officers are human and if you refuse to answer their simple questions, it will likely arouse suspicion that would justify further investigation of DUI. Do not do anything that would overtly draw suspicion, such as lighting a cigarette, refusing to roll the window down all the way, or making sudden or furtive movements within your vehicle.
Feild Sobriety Testing
If the officer suspects you have been drinking, he or she will most likely ask you to submit to a series of standardized field sobriety tests. You are not required to perform these tests, but if you refuse, you should expect to be arrested for DUI. If there is anything that might impact your ability to successfully perform the test (e.g. age, weight, disability, clumsiness, hip, ankle, or joint problems, inner ear problems, outside conditions) let the officer know prior to attempting to submit to the test.
Preliminary Breath Test
Regardless of how you perform on the standardized sobriety tests, the officer will likely ask you perform a preliminary breath test. In Kansas, a refusal of a PBT is not a criminal offense, but rather a traffic citation. Refusing a PBT will not effect the status of your license. PBT's are notoriously inaccurate and subject to operator error. If you believe there is a chance you will fail the PBT, refuse it.
Arrest and Detention
If you have refused all tests, or taken the tests and performed poorly, you will likely be placed under arrest. Continue to cooperate. An arrest does not equal an conviction. Do not make any statements that might incriminate you. The police officers are not interested in "hearing your side of the story." Their only purpose in taking a statement from you is to secure more evidence of DUI. Moreover, refusing to provide a statement cannot be used against you in the court of law.
Evidential Breath Test
There are varying opinions on whether a driver should submit to an evidential breath test. In making this decision, one should be aware of the consequences of refusing and take into consideration a number of factors before making this decision. Unfortunately, you are not afforded the right to talk to an attorney prior to making the decision. In Kansas, if you refuse an evidential breath test, the penalties against your license (length of suspension) are substantially greater than if you take the test. However, taking the test often provides per se proof that you are intoxicated, which can be use to easily prove a DUI. Most often, on first offenses, I advise my client's to take the test because that client is most likely eligible for diversion (which means no criminal conviction) and a refusal would result in a year's suspension followed by two years of interlock device. If they take the test and blow under a .15, their suspension is only for 30 days and ignition restriction period only 6 months. If you do take the test and fail, make sure that you request another independent test be performed as soon as possible.
Once you are released, you should memorialize as much as you can remember of the event in writing. Then, call an attorney the next day and schedule a meeting. If you fail or refuse a test in Kansas, you have 14 days to file for a license hearing or you will automatically lose your license.
Additional resources provided by the author
This is not intended as legal advice and should not be relied upon in lieu of legal advice from a licensed attorney who has personally reviewed the facts of your specific case.
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