Imagine that you are son your way home from dinner with friends when you suddenly see the flashing lights in your rear view mirror. You are immediately annoyed until you remember you had a couple glasses of wine with dinner. At that point annoyance turns to fear. Your experience with the police is limited to a speeding ticket you received a decade ago and what you have seen on police reality shows on television. What should you do? A number of factors will determine whether or not you are ultimately arrested and charged with driving under the influence. Knowing how to handle a DUI stop in Nebraska could be one of them.
First and foremost, do not panic. When people panic they tend to do things that increase the odds of going to jail, such as failing to stop or dowsing themselves with cologne as they are pulling over. The best thing you can do for yourself at this point is to remain as calm as possible. As a general rule, if an officer has discretion to make an arrest, you stand a much better chance of going home instead of jail if you appear level headed and in control.
Keep in mind that just because you had a glass or two of wine with dinner does not necessarily mean you are going to be arrested. You must be “under the influence” of alcohol or drugs or have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher to be in violation of the law. If you had several glasses of wine with a dinner that only lasted an hour you ,might be significantly over the 0.08 limit; however, if you truly only has a couple glasses of wine over a several hours, there is a good chance your BAC is at, or below, 0.08 percent. In that case, the officer will probably let you go. The manner in which you handle your encounter with the officer and your demeanor in general may make the difference between spending the night in your own bed or on a jail cot.
Always pull over immediately. Do not spray yourself with anything or stuff anything in your mouth to try and cover up the odor of alcohol as that will simply make the officer more suspicious. Be respectful when speaking to the officer. Do not lie but do not offer information either. Take your time, listen, and focus if you are asked to perform field sobriety tests. Finally, if the office does decide to make an arrest keep in mind that an arrest does not equal a conviction.
You do not have to take the field sobriety tests. The tests were developed to detect impairment. In my opinion, they are more subjective than objective and depend on a myriad of factors besides being under the influence of alcohol. If you refuse the field sobriety maneuvers, the officer will next ask you to submit to a preliminary breath test.
Refusing a preliminary breath test will automatically result in you being placed under arrest and charged with an infraction that will result in a $100 fine. If you submit and the result is under .08, the officer will likely let you go with a warning or ticket for whatever the caused the initial stop (not using a signal, etc.). If the result is over .08, you will be placed under arrest. Whatever you decide, the preliminary breath test is inadmissible in Court and cannot be used to convict you of DUI. It only provides probable cause to place you under arrest.
Finally, the medico-legal breath test will be requested. This test is given after arrest and generally at a police station or sub-station. This is the test that counts in Court. If you refuse this test, the criminal penalties are the same as for a non-aggravated DUI on a first offense and enhanced to an aggravated level on a second or subsequent. The administrative license revocation is 1 year and there is a 90 day waiting period before a restricted license can be issued. If you have consumed little alcohol before the arrest, it is normally best to submit to this test.
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.