Options Available to You When Stopped
For those being stopped and investigated for Driving While Intoxicated, the process is very unnerving and intense. Certain statements made by the Police are intended to give the impression to the Driver that they are obligated to perform these tests and procedures when in fact, they are not. The following pages will review what options you, the driver, have available to you.
Obviously, if an officer attempts to pull you over, you are obligated to comply with the stop. The best thing you can do is slowly and gently pull off to the side of the road, or onto an adjoining road, at the nearest location you can do so safely. If it is a DWI Checkpoint or NC License Checkpoint, you will need to proceed with the stop.
Once stopped, if the officer asks for your driver’s license and/or registration, you are required to comply. These pieces of information are required to drive and therefore must be produced when asked for by an officer.
If the officer asks you other questions, normally dealing with where you have come from, where you are headed, or how much you have had to drink, you are NOT OBLIGATED to answer these questions.
It is in your best interest to politely and respectfully decline to answer these questions if you have been drinking. DO NOT LIE! If you are ultimately proven to have consumed alcohol, a lie about it could be used against you. DO NOT BE RUDE! Remember that regardless of your circumstances, the officer is only performing their job; it is not personal. A good option would be to answer along the lines of “I respectfully decline to answer your questions.”
Additionally, the officer may ask you to perform Pre-exit Tests. Again, you are NOT OBLIGATED to perform these tests. It is a good policy to respectfully decline to perform these tests if you have been drinking.
If the officer believes further investigation is needed, they will likely ask you to do two sets of things:
- perform Roadside Field Sobriety Tests and
- blow into a Handheld Breathalyzer machine called the AlcoSensor.
As a recap, you are NOT OBLIGATED to answer the officer’s questions, perform any Pre-exit tests, perform any Field Sobriety Tests, or blow into the AlcoSensor. Understand, refusing to perform these tests DOES NOT MEAN you will NOT be arrested. If the officer believes you are impaired such that you are violating the DUI law, they are likely going to arrest you. Refusing to provide this information and perform these tests is only useful in limiting what evidence the officer, and ultimately the Prosecutor, can use should you be charged.
If you are arrested the best thing you can do is politely and respectfully comply, but DO NOT SAY ANYTHING! It is a common misconception that if you are not read the Miranda Warning upon your arrest, your statements cannot be used against you. THAT IS WRONG! You cannot be QUESTIONED after arrest without the Miranda Warning being read to you.
Even after you are Mirandized, you still should NOT answer any questions. The officers will normally ask you questions meant to serve two purposes 1. to illicit admissions from you that can be used against you in trial and 2. to secure acknowledgements from you that will negate or invalidate certain defenses you may have had. Often these types of questions appear on a questionnaire. Whether they are filling it out, or asking you to fill it out, you are are NOT OBLIGATED to answer these questions.