It doesn’t take much drinking to reach the illegal limit of .08 and obviously, if you’ve been drinking, taking a cab or walking is the easiest and preferred way to avoid a DUI, known in Michigan as operating while intoxicated (OWI).
However, many people don’t realize they’re over the legal limit when they begin driving so adhering to a few simple rules can save you the nightmare of getting pulled over.
According to a survey done by Edmunds.com, police officers usually single out cars that have blatant and easily noticeable equipment violations – so don’t give them any. Again, you want to avoid a DUI arrest nightmare. The top violations noticed by cops include:
-Heavily tinted windows, (cops are already suspicious of you)
-Burned out headlights, (especially noticeable in the dark)
-Broken windshields; and, (easiest reason to justify pulling you over)
-Loud mufflers. (screams “look at me.”)
Keeping your vehicle properly maintained will reduce your chances of getting noticed and pulled over. The cost of fixing your muffler or headlight is guaranteed to be less expensive than the costs associated with a drinking and driving offense.
2. Obey All Traffic Laws
Cops can pull you over for breaking the law so don’t do it. According to the National Motorist Association, attention-seeking driving as well as committing civil infractions are sure to get you pulled over. Some of the easiest maneuvers to avoid are:
-Failure to use a turn signal; and,
-Following to close to someone.
If you’re coming home from a dinner or party with friends, a sports game, or just a quiet dinner by yourself and you’ve had even just one drink, do yourself a favor and obey the law. Safe driving is good for you and everyone else on the road as well.
Drive the speed limit, use your signals, don’t squeal your tires and make sure your tags are current. Not only will this get you home safely, but it will increase your chances of getting home without getting pulled over.
3. Choose Your Driving Time and Place Wisely
Use your common sense with this one. If you find yourself driving home at 2:30 am, you probably shouldn’t drive through empty parking lots, closed cemeteries and down alleys. This will certainly draw attention to you, which is exactly what you don’t want to do.
Taking a nap behind the wheel in a Burger King parking lot at 6:00 am is another sure-fire way to get yourself noticed by a police officer.
So when you’re on your way home, skip the alleys, the parking structures, the naps at the stop signs and intersections and just drive home. Take your usual route, obey the traffic laws and don’t do anything suspicious, like abruptly turning down a side street at the first sight of a cop car.
Cops are trained to look for suspicious behavior and vehicles that are driving in odd places at odd hours of the day or night are prime targets.
4. Be On Your Best Behavior When Stopped And Say Nothing
As soon as you see the flashing lights behind you your mind begins racing with what you plan on saying to the police officer. My best advice to you – don’t be a jerk and say as few words as possible. Also do not admit to drinking any alcohol.
There’s absolutely no law that requires you to speak with the police officer – even when pulled over on the side of the road. So when the officer approaches your car door, stay calm, relax, and don’t start talking in an attempt to persuade the officer to let you go.
If the officer asks if you know why he pulled you over, answer politely “no.”
Likewise if the officer asks where you’re coming from, where you’re going, whether you had anything to drink this evening, your answer should always be a polite “I’d rather not answer that question officer.”
Remember, the more talking you do the more opportunity you give the officer to say that he smelled alcohol on your breath, or that your speech was slurred.
It’s also important for you to know that there’s no law that requires you to perform field sobriety tests, so don’t do them. These tests are used to build a case against you.
Even if you think you can pass them, don’t do it. There’s no objective pass or fail. The test relies on “clues” of impairment, which are pretty subjective.
Same goes for the portable breath test or PBT that officers want you to take on the side of the road. The results can only hurt you, so just don’t do it. The only penalty for not taking the PBT is a fine.
Don’t be thrown off if the officer gets angry and threatens to arrest you on the spot. He can’t unless you actually did something illegal or were about to do something illegal, or admit that you did or were about to do something illegal. A PBT result of .08 or higher gives the officer all the probable cause he needs to arrest you.
Just remember, keep your vehicle properly maintained, obey the traffic laws, don’t drive in suspicious places, say as little as possible, don’t do the field sobriety tests and be as polite as possible to the police officer– no matter what. These are the keys to avoid a DUI arrest nightmare.
Attorney Morris is trial lawyer who has been providing high-quality legal representation in the areas of state and federal criminal defense for more than 20 years. He’s known for his trial preparation by fellow attorneys, judges and clients alike. As a trial attorney, he’s dedicated to attaining justice in every case, and is always prepared to successfully take on complex legal issues. Barton and his law firm pride themselves on obtaining results for their clients that other attorneys cannot.
Not only does Barton Morris have extensive experience, he also engages in continuing legal education to provide the highest quality legal services. Barton has received specialized scientific training through the American Chemical Society, and is the only forensic lawyer-scientist in Michigan. He attended the prestigious Trial Lawyers College and serves on its Alumni Association Board of Directors. Barton Morris is also a board member of several distinguished legal associations including the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys, and the DUI Defense Lawyer’s Association Justice Foundation. He’s also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and has graduated from their National Criminal Defense Trial College in Macon, Georgia.
Barton Morris is consistently chosen as a Top Lawyer of Metro Detroit and for DUI/OWI and criminal defense by DBusiness Magazine and Hour Magazine. He has also been chosen as a Super Lawyer in Criminal Defense.