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What to do if you are pulled over for DWI

On Behalf of | Jan 6, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Most Minnesota residents get nervous when they are pulled over by the cops, so if this sounds like you, don’t worry. Anxiety is especially high when you are stopped because the cops suspect you of driving while intoxicated.

You might think that if you address the issue with the officers, they will appreciate your honesty and let you off with a warning. This is not true.

Say nothing except your name

Do not say anything to the cops, particularly about your alcohol consumption. Do not argue with them or try to outrun them when they pull you over.

Pull your car over to the side of the road, turn your engine off and put your hands on the steering wheel so the cops can see them. They will likely ask for your name. You should give them your name and your driver’s license and car registration, if they ask.

Other than that, say nothing. Even if the cops ask you if you have had anything to drink that night, or how much, you have no legal obligation to answer. You also have no legal obligation to perform field sobriety tests, such as walking a straight line or reciting the alphabet backwards.

Reasonable suspicion and probable cause

Cops must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over for DWI. Reasonable suspicion can come from the cops observing you speeding or driving erratically, which you might be doing even if you are sober.

However, cops cannot require you to take a breath or chemical test without probable cause. They obtain probable cause from the answers you give to their questions or your results on the field sobriety tests.

Do not be afraid to assert your rights

Therefore, remaining silent and declining to take field sobriety tests, per your rights under the law, will result in a lack of probable cause. If the cops keep asking you the same questions or pressuring you to perform field sobriety tests, ask to speak to a lawyer.

You have legal rights that deserve protection. A violation of these rights during a traffic stop can be a defense against a DWI charge.