You’re driving home one night from an evening out with friends when you happen to glimpse into the rearview mirror and see those flashing blue lights behind you. Uh-oh. Suddenly you’re wishing you hadn’t ordered that last glass of wine at the bar.
You nervously pull your car to the side of the road and wait while the police officer approaches your car. What should you do?
Remain calm during your interaction
Your number one goal is to survive this encounter with the police in Joliet. We have all read about and seen videos of people who got stopped by the police who wind up getting shot or otherwise killed while in police custody. Don’t be the next statistic. Keep your hands on the steering wheel in view of the officer until he or she tells you to produce your driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration documentation.
Stay calm and be polite to the officer. But think carefully over your response to the leading questions he or she will ask you. The answers that you give will determine how the traffic stop will proceed.
Don’t volunteer information — but never lie
When you are detained or arrested by the police, you have the right to remain silent. The police officer will typically say something like, “How much have you had to drink tonight?” The average motorist will respond by saying something like, “Just a couple of beers.”
It’s no accident that the cops pose questions like that to drivers. They are assuming that you have been drinking. If you answer like the above example, you are confirming that you were indeed drinking alcohol and now are behind the wheel of a car. That alone is grounds to require further investigation that could likely lead to a DUI charge.
But lying to the police is a crime in and of itself, although not everyone who lies to them gets charged. But since it also opens a legal door to further questioning, you want to avoid it.
Can you deflect the question?
You might try to deflect the officer’s line of questioning, but a persistent police officer will recognize that ruse for what it is. Another way of avoiding self-incrimination or lying to the cops is to state politely that you are exercising your right to remain silent. That is your Constitutional right and only you can waive it. Just make sure that you don’t.
Don’t take the roadside sobriety tests
Nothing good can come from a detained motorist attempting to complete roadside sobriety tests, which are too subjective. There you are, on the side of the road, perhaps with traffic whizzing by mere inches away while you try to stand on one foot, walk and turn like a circus animal on display.
Those sobriety tests are very easy to fail, especially if you have had foot, knee or ankle surgeries or have any type of gait problem. Ditto for the gaze nystagmus tests that can trip up someone with vision problems.
Ask to speak to your attorney
Your best defense is to refuse to answer any questions or take any tests until you speak to your criminal defense attorney. While noncompliance will probably cause you to be arrested, at least you will not have voluntarily provided evidence to the court that you were guilty of driving under the influence.