The sound of sirens and the flashing lights behind you can be frightening enough on its own. When the officer performs a sobriety test and charges you with a DUI, it can be terrifying. You may have never even had a speeding ticket, let alone been arrested for something. Everything about it is unfamiliar and unknown, and you don't know what to do.
Even if you think "this will never happen to me," it's always smart to be prepared for the worst. Being charged with drunk driving doesn't actually mean you were driving drunk, so knowing what to do, and what not to, in the situation could save you a lot of stress, time and money.
1. Don't talk
While being polite to the officers is always advisable, there is no need to offer up any extra information. Name, license, insurance information - all of those things are expected to be answered. But if the officer starts asking you more questions which could lead to incriminating answers, stay quiet. Let the officer know you have been advised not to answer questions. You'll be nervous enough as it is, so don't risk saying something you shouldn't.
2. Don't lie
Again, you are likely scared and nervous, and you're just trying to protect yourself. But no matter what, there is no good reason to lie. If you've had a drink or two, and the officer asks if you have been drinking, don't say "no." That will only cause more problems down the road and make you seem guilty. Lying to an officer never looks good for your case. And remember, when in doubt, see #1.
3. Don't lose your license
In California, your license will be automatically suspended if you don't take quick action. It's your responsibility to request a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of your arrest. While your head might still be spinning from being arrested, it's important to not miss this step.
4. Don't forget to call an attorney
Being charged with a DUI doesn't necessarily mean you will be convicted of a DUI. Even if you're worried there is evidence against you, an experienced DUI attorney can help investigate the evidence, determine if there were flaws or errors in the administration of any sobriety tests and help you understand your options. While DUI convictions aren't uncommon, they are serious and can have life-altering consequences. Whether you are searching for a job, or you have a professional license that could be compromised, a DUI conviction is worth fighting.
Being pulled over for drunk driving will inevitably be nerve-wracking, but being prepared can help ensure a more positive outcome.