No one plans to get pulled over by the police and treated as a suspect in a driving under the influence, or DUI, investigation. Despite this, you could find yourself pulled over on the side of the road in just that situation one day. Because you have never been in that situation before, you will likely not know how to handle a DUI stop in Nebraska; however, the manner in which you do handle a DUI stop can ultimately be the difference between a conviction and a dismissal of your case. With that in mind, it only makes sense to have some idea ahead of time what to do in the event you do ever find yourself looking at a law enforcement officer who just asked you “Have you had anything to drink today sir/madam?”
Although every DUI stop involves a unique set of facts and circumstances, the basic procedures followed by law enforcement agencies across the country are relatively similar. Therefore, the following tips will apply to most DUI stops in Nebraska, or anywhere.
1. Do not give the police a reason to stop you in the first place. This is the single most important thing you can do to prevent a DUI arrest. The police must have a reason to effectuate a traffic stop. That reason, however, can be something relatively minor, such as a minor traffic violation. To decrease the odds of getting pulled over:
a. Make sure your vehicle itself is not violating any traffic laws. Check for malfunctioning lights, cracks in your windshield, noisy muffle etc.
b. Obey all traffic laws. Use your turn signals, yield the rights of way, come to a complete stop at all stop signs/lights etc.
c. Do not exceed the speed limit or drive too slow.
2. Do pull-over as soon as it is safe to do so. As soon as you see the flashing lights in the mirror, slow down, put on your turn signal, and pull over as soon as it is safe to do so. Failing to indicate your intention to comply when being stopped raises suspicion that you are trying to buy time to hide something.
3. Do not make any sudden movements. This applies to any traffic stop. Keep your hands where the officer can see them and don’t make any sudden movements. Wait until the officer asks for your license and registration so the officer does not think you are reaching or a weapon.
4. Do not try to hide alcohol on your breath. People often do things such as spray breath freshener in their mouth trying to cover the smell of alcohol. What they don’t know is that what they put in their mouth often contains alcohol which can increase the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) reading from a chemical test.
5. Do be cooperative but not chatty. Answer basic questions regarding your identity but do not offer additional information. Keep all answers short, particularly if you have been drinking because the more you talk the more likely it is you will slur your words or say something that gives away your level of intoxication.
6. Do not admit guilt. This is a tricky one. When the officer asks that all-important “Have you had anything to drink today sir/mam?” question people are often unsure how to answer. Admitting you had anything at all to drink will likely seal your fate; however, lying to a police officer is never a good idea either. You can try deflecting the question with a question, such as “Why did you pull me over officer?” or you can politely tell the officer that your family member/friend/co-worker/neighbor who happens to be an attorney advised you to never answer that question.
7. You can refuse the field sobriety tests. You will likely be asked to perform a series of field sobriety tests (FSTs). You can refuse them. They are subjectively graded, meaning few people ever pass them because if an officer bothers to ask you to take them, he/she has probably already concluded that you are driving under the influence.
8. Do not resist arrest. If the officer places you under arrest, do not argue or throw a fit. Once the decision has been made by the officer you are just going to have to accept it and fight the case when you are released from custody. Arguing will only serve to potentially add additional charges.
9. You can refuse a chemical test. This is a big one. You have the absolute right to refuse to take a chemical test; however, there are repercussions if you do. In Nebraska, your license will automatically be revoked for one year for refusing a chemical test.
10. Contact an experienced Nebraska DUI attorney. Once you have been formally charged with DUI the most important step you can take is to consult with an experienced Nebraska DUI attorney to get started on our defense.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence in Nebraska contact the Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense attorney.
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