10 Things You Need To Know if You Are Stopped for DUI

  1. You must show the officer your license, registration and proof of insurance. If the officer asks to see your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance, you must show these to the officer. Illinois law requires that you have your driver’s license on you when you drive, and also that you have the vehicle registration and proof of insurance in the vehicle.

  2. You should always be polite to an officer. Being rude, offensive or belligerent to an officer will not help your cause. Additionally, the officer will perceive this kind of behavior as evidence that you were DUI.

  3. Everything you say and do is most likely being recorded by the officer. Most suburban police departments now have on-board video camera recording for every stop, in addition to audio recording through a microphone worn by the officer.

  4. You do have to exit your vehicle if requested by the officer. Even if you believe that the officer does not have a valid reason for asking you to exit your vehicle, you must obey a directive from the officer.

  5. You do not have to perform any field sobriety tests at the scene. When the officer requests you to “walk a straight line” or “stand on one leg” or “follow his finger from side to side with your eyes”, you have the right to tell the officer that you do not wish to take part in those tests, or any other tests. If you think about it, when the officer asks you to do field sobriety tests, what he is doing is asking you to give him evidence that he believes will help convict you of DUI.

    I have never had an officer say that my client did “pass” the field sobriety tests. When an officer gives you field sobriety tests, whatever they are, they are looking for “clues” that you failed to perform the tests properly. Officers always find these clues. Every time. Even when you are not DUI.

    True story: I represented a client who was stopped by an officer because she was “swerving” in traffic. The officer thought she was DUI. She had consumed ONE drink, hours before the stop, and she had then eaten a full meal. He asked her to do the field sobriety tests, and she did. She thought she performed all of the tests extremely well, but the officer found that she failed every test! He put her in handcuffs and took her to the station. At the station, the officer requested she take a breath test. She initially refused, as she had no confidence in the results given that she felt that she had been wrongfully arrested. A short while later, after much deliberation, she told the officer that she would take the breath test. She did take the test and blew .02, or 75% UNDER THE LEGAL LIMIT. She was not charged with DUI, but was charged with improper lane useage! I had the charges dismissed. The main point of this tragic story is that although she was extremely sober, the officer had found that my client failed every field sobriety test. That is why I advise my clients that in most cases, they should not agree to perform any field sobriety tests.

  6. You do not have to take a preliminary breath test at the scene. Sometimes, an officer will request that you take a Preliminary Breath Test at the scene. This is done by you blowing air into a device that provides a reading for the officer. The results of the preliminary breath test are not admissible in court against you, but can be used by the officer in forming a basis that you are DUI.

  7. You do not have to answer questions at the scene about whether you have been drinking, what you have been drinking, how much you have been drinking or where you had been drinking. You have an absolute right to remain silent about these issues. The only questions you have answer are your name, date of birth, address, and additional information required to obtain your truthful identity.

  8. You should never resist arrest, even if you feel that the officer has no basis to take you into custody. The law requires you to submit to the officer’s arrest, even if you believe the arrest is unlawful or illegal.

  9. You do not have to take a breath test at the station. It is your right to refuse to take a breath test. Understand, if you do refuse to take a breath test, your driving privileges will be suspended for a minimum of one year if you are a first time offender. However, the court can overturn the suspension for various reasons, and, if this is your first DUI offense, you can obtain a permit to drive during the suspension. The breath test results, if .08 or greater, will serve only to strengthen the prosecution’s case against you.

  10. You do not have to answer questions at the station about whether you have been drinking, what you have been drinking, how much you have been drinking or where you had been drinking, or any other questions other than your name, date of birth and address. Your absolute right to remain silent stays with you always, no matter where you are. At the police station, you have a right to refuse to answer any questions other than those questions regarding your identity – name, date of birth, address.

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