What to Do and Not to Do When Pulled Over

Information by a Seattle Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have ever been pulled over by a police officer, then you understand how frightening it can be. Even for the most law-abiding individual, observing flashing lights in the rear-view mirror can be very nerve-wracking. Understanding the do's and don'ts when you are being pulled over can help ease your mind when it unexpectedly occurs. You will likely have a better chance of challenging the charges against you if you are aware of the steps that you should and should not take when being pulled over.

What You Should Do if Suspected of Driving Under the Influence

When you see a police officer behind you with emergency lights flashing, you must pull over to the right as quickly and safely as possible. Throughout the entire process, you will want to remain as calm and cordial as possible. Using your turn signal and slowing down in a safe manner is the best way to begin this situation. At night, police officers usually inquire about your alcohol consumption, even if that is not the reason you have been pulled over. If you have been drinking at all, what you say can easily be used against you in a court of law. If you are asked an incriminating question such as this, you can politely decline to answer without an attorney present.

You will need to provide the police officer with your driver's license, registration and insurance. This should be produced as soon as possible. You will want to obey the police officer, unless you are absolutely aware of your rights to decline a request. Unless you are asked to exit your vehicle, you must stay in the car. If you are, however, asked to exit the vehicle, do so in a respectful and obedient manner.

Remember Your Fifth Amendment Rights

It is important to remember that the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution affords you the right to remain silent when asked incriminating questions. If you have been asked incriminating questions, such as whether you have been drinking, you can choose not to answer. If you are positive that you are not intoxicated and either consumed no alcohol or a very small amount of alcohol many hours earlier, it is often best to answer the question. If that is not the case, however, you should claim your Fifth Amendment rights and avoid incriminating yourself. Politely respond to the officer that you will need your lawyer present to answer such questions.

You can also legally refuse a field sobriety test. Of course, you should remain polite and cordial toward the police officer at all times. However, the State of Washington has an Implied Consent law, which says that by driving a vehicle, you give your consent to take a breath or blood test. Although you can physically refuse a chemical test, your license, permit, or privilege to drive will be revoked for a minimum of one year. A refusal to submit to a breathalyzer chemical test could be used against you in a criminal trial, but the results can also be used against you. If this test is administered at the police station, it is important to take the test and not oppose the breathalyzer. It is important to remember that you must cooperate with the arresting officer as you protect your rights.