The flashing red lights of a police car in your rearview mirror is unnerving, even if you haven't done anything wrong. It is difficult to know what to do or say, and the wrong decision can have major consequences - especially if you have been drinking.
Understanding what happens during a DUI stop in Michigan can help you make informed choices to protect your rights.
Police are looking for evidence
One of the most important things to understand about a DUI stop is that it is an opportunity for police to collect evidence against you. If they get enough of the right kinds of evidence, it will give them probable cause to administer alcohol testing and possibly arrest you for drunk driving.
Thus, it is in your best interest to avoid giving the police more information than is necessary. Once they are unnerved by being stopped by police, some people's tendency is to curry favor by volunteering information excessively. This can easily backfire.
Instead, you should be aware of your rights and politely but firmly insist on exercising them. Keep these tips in mind if you are stopped by police and questioned about drinking and driving:
- You can politely decline to answer most questions. Police are likely to ask you whether you have been drinking, how much you had to drink, when you were drinking and other questions. Beyond providing identifying information about yourself, you are not required to answer a police officer's questions and it is in your best interests not to.
- You do not have to perform field sobriety tests. A number of studies have shown that common field sobriety tests such as one-leg stands or the heel-to-toe walk and turn are designed to be failed.
- If you have not been arrested, you are not required to submit to a roadside breath test. Police may ask you to voluntarily submit to a preliminary breath test using a handheld device that will measure your blood alcohol content (BAC). You can refuse to take this test. It is important to note the difference between refusing to voluntarily submit to a roadside breath test before you are arrested and refusing to submit to a chemical test once you have been arrested. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test after you have been arrested, you are violating Michigan's implied consent law and you will be scheduled for a hearing separate from your drunk driving charge.
Understand your rights before you are stopped
Knowing your rights ahead of time will help you make the right decisions if you are stopped by police. If you are arrested for drunk driving, it is smart to enlist the services of an experienced DUI defense attorney as quickly as possible. There are a number of missteps that can be made from that point forward. A knowledgeable lawyer can minimize the impact of a DUI arrest.