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What to Do if You Are Pulled Over for DUI / DWI

Recently, a New York man was jailed for driving 153 mph with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit. State police chased the man at 3 a.m. on a Sunday, and he eventually crashed into a guardrail. Neither the driver nor his passengers were injured. The driver was arrested and tested with a breathalyzer, which purportedly registered a BAC of 0.12. In New York, the legal limit is 0.08. He’s been charged with DWI, reckless endangerment and various other traffic violations.

Trying to outrun police in a high-speed chase is always a bad idea. If you have been drinking and you are being pulled over, you can take steps to avoid the worst consequences. Remain calm, know your rights and contact an attorney immediately.

If you are pulled over, have your license, registration and insurance cards ready for the officer. Stay in your car and keep your hands on the wheel. Address the officer with respect and follow the childhood rule: “Don’t speak unless spoken to.”

The officer may ask if you have been drinking. Never say “yes.” If you truthfully have not been drinking, tell the officer. Otherwise, politely invoke your Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.

You have the right to refuse physical sobriety tests such as walking a straight line or following the officer’s penlight. You cannot refuse a breathalyzer or other chemical test without subjecting your license or driving privileges to possible revocation.

Keep in mind that these tests are not infallible. If the breathalyzer finds you over the limit and you are arrested, continue to be polite to the officer. Contact a criminal defense attorney in private as soon as you can. Politely ask if you can call an attorney and advise the officer that you want to speak to an attorney prior to making any decisions. Explain the situation and ask the attorney to explain your options. You may have to choose from among difficult choices, but follow the attorney’s directions once you have made your choice.