What Should I Do if I’m Stopped for DWI?

Particularly during the holidays, it is not uncommon to see reminders that extra DWI enforcement will be out. If after a night of merriment, you happen to be stopped by law enforcement, here are some tips on how best to proceed:

-Have your driver’s license and proof of insurance ready for the officer.

-Do not admit to drinking, not even to having had “a couple.”

-Politely decline to answer any questions.

-Politely decline to perform any field sobriety tests.

Unfortunately, if an officer believes that you operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, you will almost certainly be arrested. There is no way to talk yourself out of a DWI. Be respectful and polite to the officer, but do not perform any of the field sobriety tests. These tests are used by officers to strengthen the probable cause to support an arrest. Before an officer can arrest someone the officer must have probable cause to do so. Probable cause means that based on the circumstances a reasonable person would believe it is more likely than not that something occurred. In cases of DWIs, an officer, based on the facts of the stop and his or her own observations, must believe it is more likely than not that you were driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

Declining to perform field sobriety tests or admit to drinking may very well make the officer angry; however, if the officer truly thinks you are under the influence, you will be arrested regardless of how well you perform the field sobriety tests or whether or not you perform the tests at all. Therefore, it is in your best interests to not provide more assistance to the police in finding probable cause to arrest you by risking not performing perfectly on field sobriety tests.

If an officer becomes combative with your decision to not perform any field sobriety tests, it may be helpful to tell the officer you do not want to do anything until you have spoken with an attorney.

If you are arrested for suspicion of DWI, prior to being requested to submit to an official test of your blood alcohol content, you will be read the Minnesota Motor Vehicle Implied Consent Advisory. This advisory will inform you that refusal to take a test is a crime and will indicate that you have a right to speak to an attorney. As most people are unfamiliar as to what to do in this situation, you should take advantage of calling on legal counsel to assist you. It does not matter if you do not know any attorneys or that it may be 3 a.m. The officer is required to provide you with a telephone and phone book or directory from which you can find numbers for criminal defense attorneys. Since crimes are not committed exclusively between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., most criminal defense attorneys are available 24 hours.

After you have had the opportunity to try and get in touch with an attorney, you will be asked by the officer if you will submit to testing. Testing may be in the form of blood, breath or urine. You should always submit to testing as the consequences for refusing to test are almost always more severe. If you are asked to give a blood test, but you have an aversion to needles, you may ask for a urine test instead. However, under all other circumstances, you must submit to the test offered. You do not have a right to request a specific type of test. After you submit to testing, you can request to make arrangements for an additional test at your own expense.

If you are given a breath test, the results are provided almost instantly. Blood and urine testing results take longer as the sample needs to be sent to a lab for analysis. At this point a number of different things can happen. If you have no prior DWI convictions and you are not too intoxicated, after booking the officer will oftentimes let you call someone to come pick you up. You may be given notice of a court date or one will be mailed to you. In cases where a person is extremely intoxicated or the officer has concerns abut the person’s health, a person may be transported to a detox facility or to a hospital. If you have one or more prior DWIs, you may be kept in custody until you can see a judge for a mandatory bail setting. Depending on the circumstances, if you retain counsel early, your attorney may be successful in attempting to get bail set prior to waiting to see a judge.

While DWIs are quite common, they can have far-reaching effects. Therefore, it is important to know your rights and to have someone on your side. There may also be time limitations in effect with respect to challenging a license revocation. If you have been charged with DWI, contact a Minneapolis Criminal Defense Attorney right away.

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Categories: Criminal Defense, DWI