How To Deal With A DUI Stop
Obviously, violating traffic laws is a good way to attract the attention of police officers. At the same time, driving below an already under posted speed limit, signaling a turn a half a mile before turning or not taking your turn at a stop sign will also attract attention. It is virtually impossible to drive more than a mile or two without violating some arcane traffic law. If you have the option of pulling into a parking lot or otherwise avoid having a patrol car follow you for a long distance there will be less likelihood of being stopped for a traffic violation. Making sure to wear your seat belt is one way to convey an aura of "safety."
Driving Time And Place
The chances of being stopped under a variety of pretenses at "bar time" are fairly high. However, the police are also attuned to special events like festivals, sports contests, large wedding receptions, church picnics and company parties. Enforcement may be intensified in these environments. If you are moving with traffic and your vehicle is well maintained and not "standing out" for any reason, you are much more likely not to be stopped for enforcement purposes.
If you have alternative routes that you can take to your destination, particularly in the later evening, that avoid those areas with the largest concentrations of taverns, bars and nightclubs, you will also be avoiding the largest concentration of enforcement activity. Taking the longer, less traveled route may turn out to be a short cut in the long run!
You've Been Stopped, Now What?
Despite your best efforts, a just-burned-out headlight has given a police officer an excuse to stop you. Under other circumstances you might welcome being told about your failed headlight before you left the lighted city streets. But, you have been drinking, not in excess, but drinking never the less. What should you do?
First, always keep documents like your registration and insurance card in a readily accessible location. You do not want to have to fish through your glove box, or worse, to not find these documents when you need them. When the blue lights go on, find a safe place to pull over, always on the right side of the road whenever possible. Next, turn your dome light on and place both your hands on the steering wheel where the police officer can see them. This makes him more comfortable about his safety and conveys a sense of personal control on your part. If the opportunity presents itself, it's best to roll down your window and vent the passenger compartment of accumulated odors prior to actually stopping.
Be courteous, but admit to nothing. If the officer asks if you have been drinking return his question with a question, "would you like to see my license?" or "why do you ask?" Do not admit to drinking so much as one beer. You are under no obligation to give the officer any information beyond that on your drivers license. Your admission to drinking gives the officer "cause" to pursue the matter further. Without that admission he must base his decision on pursuing a DWI arrest on your driving, or mannerisms after the stop. A burned-out headlight is not an indication of impairment and neither is a refusal to chitchat about your night's events. If he decides to push the issue, he may ask you to step out of your vehicle, which the courts say is permissible. He may ask you to perform certain tests, "just to prove you're capable of driving safely." Do not perform any of these tests. You are not required to perform these tests and there is no penalty for refusal. The ONLY reason these tests are given is to give the officer justification to require you to take a chemical test (breath, blood or urine) to determine your Blood Alcohol Content, BAC. No one ever "passes" one of these roadside sobriety tests, not even the "soberest" of the sober.