What To Do When You Are Pulled Over
Norfolk, VA DUI defense lawyers explain
Police lights in the rear-view mirror. A sobriety checkpoint up ahead. Suddenly, a police officer asks you to roll down the window or pull over to the side of the road. What should you do next?
First of all, don’t panic. The steps you take can make a dramatic difference in the outcome of your DUI defense case. That’s why it’s important to know exactly what to do.
Below, you can find some tips from our Norfolk, VA DUI defense attorneys at Welch & Wright, PLLC. Remember, this is general information, not legal advice. It’s always best to talk to an experienced DUI attorney about your specific situation. When your future and your freedom are on the line, we’re the law firm you want on your side.
What to do if police pull you over in Virginia
Some of the steps you should take if you have been pulled over by a police officer or stopped at a DUI sobriety checkpoint include:
- Don’t panic – We realize how stressful it can be to be stopped by a police officer or state trooper who suspects that you are driving under the influence of alcohol. Do your best to remain calm.
- Pull over safely – When you see flashing lights in your rear-view mirror, carefully pull over to a safe location. This helps the police feel secure and also prevents any accidents or unsafe situations. Use your turn signal and pull over to the side of the road as soon as it's safe to do so.
- Keep hands visible – Once you have safely pulled over, keep your hands visible at all times. This helps the police officer feel safe and also prevents any misunderstandings or confusion. Avoid making any sudden movements or reaching for anything without informing the police officer first.
- Be cooperative – Be polite and cooperative with the police officer who pulled you over or stopped you at a sobriety checkpoint. If the police officer asks you a question, respond politely and respectfully – even if you decline to actually answer. Avoid arguing with the police officer. It won’t help your case and could escalate the situation. Conversely, being polite and cooperative with police officers can often lead to better outcomes for your case.
- Keep statements brief – Throughout your interaction with police, keep your statements brief. Short answers like “Yes, Sir” or “No, Ma’am” are perfectly acceptable in many cases. The less you say, the better. Also, exercise your right to remain silent on anything that could be incriminating.
- Provide basic information – When the police officer asks for basic information – such as your name and address – answer those questions. Also make sure to provide the officer with requested documentation, such as your driver's license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. But you don’t need to provide any information beyond those basics.
- Remember, you have the right to record – You have a First Amendment right to record your interactions with the police. Federal courts have ruled that police have no expectation of privacy during a traffic stop. That said, be careful and don’t escalate the situation. Nowadays, almost all police officers are recording all investigatory stops either with bodycam or dashcam.
- Don’t consent to a search – The police need “probable cause” in order to search your vehicle without your consent. Don’t physically resist, but do say, clearly and unambiguously, “I do not consent to a search of my vehicle.” If you don’t consent, and the prosecution can’t prove that the officer had probable cause, your attorney can get any evidence discovered during the search thrown out.
- Refuse field sobriety test – You may be instructed to take a field sobriety test. These tests are not mandatory in Virginia, and you have the right to refuse to take one for any reason. Field sobriety tests are subjective, and many sober drivers do not perform well in them for a variety of reasons. Taking the test may hurt your case.
- Take chemical DUI test – You may be asked to take a DUI breath test or DUI blood test at the police station. If you refuse to take one of these DUI chemical tests, there are automatic penalties under Virginia’s implied consent law, so know the consequences before you agree or refuse.
- Write down what happened – As soon as possible, write down everything you can remember about your DUI arrest or interaction with the police. For example, did they read you your legal rights if they arrested you? How much time passed between when the police officer pulled you over and conducted a DUI breath test or DUI blood test? They only have 3 hours from the time of your arrest for such tests to be admissible in court. Such details can help build a stronger legal case on your behalf.
- Hire a lawyer – The sooner you have a Virginia DUI defense attorney handling your case, the better. Your lawyer can advise of your legal rights and deal directly with the police on your behalf. Experienced lawyers know the law and know how to successfully navigate through Virginia’s legal system. That’s why you need us on your side, standing up for your rights.
You have rights. We can fight for them
The clock is running after your DUI arrest in Virginia. The legal process can move fast. And if you wait to take action, you could miss important deadlines and opportunities. That’s why it’s critical that you take action right away.
Make our law firm your first call. Contact us to learn more about your legal options. Schedule a free case evaluation with a skilled, courtroom-tested Norfolk, VA DUI defense lawyer at Welch & Wright, PLLC. We’re focused on winning your case, on your terms.