If you are driving down the road and see the flashing lights of the police in your rearview mirror, it can be a very jarring experience. This is especially the case, if you had a drink earlier. Although your first instinct may be to think that your arrest for OWI is a foregone conclusion, how you behave next can greatly influence whether you will be charged with drunk driving. Here are some tips for interacting with the police:
Pull over and exercise caution. Don't panic when you see the police lights. Turn on your signal light and cautiously pull over to the safest area in the road to do so. Do not slam on your brakes, make any awkward or suspect movements or attempt to outrun the police. Have your license and registration ready to present to the officer. Roll down your window and do not attempt to exit the vehicle or make any swift movements.
Watch what you say. Don't offer up any information whatsoever, including when they ask if you know why you've been stopped. Simply shake your head, pass your identification to the officer and remain silent. Any verbal engagement with the officer can be your downfall- especially if you smell like alcohol- which the officer can then state in his report as his cause to ask for a Breathalyzer. Do not admit to drinking to the officer.
Do not consent to a search if you are asked to step out of the car. This usually only happens if the officer believes that you are intoxicated and wants to begin field sobriety tests (also known as FSTs) or a preliminary breath test (PBT). Roll up your window, lock your car and do not agree to a search of the car if the officer asks if he can do so. If you consent to a search of your car, there's no going back, whereas an illegal search can later be dismissed in court.
Stay silent. If the officer decides to administer a preliminary breath test or field sobriety test to determine whether you are intoxicated, you should be remain silent and alert as to what the officer is asking of you. Both the PBT and FST tests can be refused, as the charge for refusal in Michigan is a civil, not criminal, fine. If your results yield 0.8 or higher, or the officer has some other reason to believe you are intoxicated if you refuse the tests, you will likely be arrested and taken to the station for a blood, breath or urine test to determine your blood alcohol content.
Ask for your lawyer. If you are arrested for OWI, it is important to obtain legal representation as soon as possible, in order to ensure that you have a fighting chance of mitigating the charges against you. With over 20 years of experience of defending those accused of OWI, the Ann Arbor law firm of Dawid & Gatti, PLLC can fight on your behalf to achieve the most favorable outcome possible.