DUI Do's and Don'ts

When the lights flash behind you and you pull over to the side of the road, it can be a terrifying experience. It can be difficult to know what to do. An experienced defense attorney can help you through the process and help you understand what you should and should not do after being pulled over. Call John F. Segelbaum, Attorney at Law, at 425-361-0865.

What to Do if You Are Pulled Over on Suspicion of Drunk Driving

The police officer will document everything you do. So, be sure to:

  • Slow down, signal and pull over to the shoulder when the police officer turns on his emergency lights.
  • Put your car in park, set the parking brake and turn of the engine.
  • Roll down both the driver's side and passenger side windows. The officer may approach from either side.
  • Keep both hands on the steering wheel where the officer can see them. The officer wants to be able to see your hands for officer safety.
  • Provide the officer with your driver's license, registration and proof of insurance. Keep these documents in a place where you can easily find them and produce them.
  • Address the officer as Sir or Ma'am. You will get points for being polite.

DO NOT engage the officer in conversation or answer questions. The officer will casually ask you if you have been drinking, how much you had to drink, where you are coming from, where you are going, etc. DO NOT answer these questions. Your answers — and any inconsistencies in those answers — will be used against you in court. In addition, the officer will document any odor of intoxicants on your breath, slurred speech, etc.

DO NOT lie to the officer or argue with the officer. Politely but firmly say, "I don't wish to answer any questions, thank you."

If You Are Asked to Take Field Sobriety Tests or a Preliminary Breath Test

  • DO get out of the car if the officer tells you to get out.
  • DO NOT agree to take any roadside sobriety tests, including the preliminary breath test (PBT), a portable breath-testing device the officer carries with him/her. These tests are voluntary, and you have the right to refuse them. Politely but firmly tell the officer, "No, thank you." While you might think you will do well on these tests, chances are the officer will say you flunked them. They are judged subjectively by the officer and it's your word against his/hers.

If You Have Been Placed Under Arrest

  • DO NOT argue with the officer if he or she places you under arrest. You will not win the argument. Cooperate. Let the officer handcuff you and place you in the police car. Do NOT try to talk your way out of the arrest. Telling the officer "I can make it home" or "Just let my husband/wife come pick me up" won't help. DO NOT tell the officer you will lose your job or he/she is ruining your life. KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! Every time you open your mouth, you hurt your case.
  • DO NOT talk to the officer on the way to the police station. He/she will document everything you say along with the overwhelming odor of intoxicants filling the police car and the slurred speech as you speak.
  • DO demand to speak to an attorney as soon as you are placed in the police car. Say, "I would like to speak to an attorney." The officer is supposed to advise you of your right to talk to an attorney as soon as you are placed under arrest. Ask to talk to an attorney even if the officer doesn't advise you of this right.

If you've been pulled over or arrested for DUI/DWI, contact Edmonds, Washington, attorney John F. Segelbaum for a skilled and aggressive DUI defense.

Once You Arrive at the Police Station

  • Ask for an attorney: Renew your request to talk to an attorney when you get to the police station. Say, "I would like to speak to an attorney before I do anything else." The officer must provide you with a telephone, telephone book and the phone number of the on-call public defender. You can call your own attorney, find me in the phone book or ask to speak to the on-call public defender. It doesn't matter how much money you have. Private attorneys will take your call and the public defender will talk to anyone, even if you don't qualify for one in court. It doesn't matter what time of day or night it is. Usually, the officer will dial the phone for you.
  • Ask for privacy: Request that the officer leave the room so that you can talk to the attorney in private. While you have the right to talk to an attorney, you might not get privacy unless you ask for it. If the officer refuses a request for privacy, evidence could be suppressed in court. You have to ask to talk to an attorney, and you have to ask for privacy. Make a mental note of where the officer is while you are on the phone. Tell the attorney where the officer is. You do not have the right to call your wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend unless they are an attorney. You can ask to call them if they have the phone number for your attorney.
  • Do not agree to answer questions at the police station: The officer is supposed to advise you of your right to remain silent after you are placed under arrest. This usually happens in the police car and again at the police station. DO NOT give up (waive) your right to remain silent.
  • Ask about your rights if you do not understand them: Tell the officer if you are confused about any of the rights he reads you at the police station, especially if you don't understand all the rights and consequences of taking the breath test. If you are confused, be sure to tell the officer, "I am confused. I don't understand the rights." The officer doesn't have to give you advice whether or not to take the test. But he does have to clarify any confusion you have about the consequences of taking or refusing the test and the right to additional tests. If he or she doesn't do so or misstates the law, the breath test could be suppressed in court and at the Department of Licensing hearing.
  • Take the breath test at the police station: This is not an absolute rule but generally good advice. Listen to the attorney. If you refuse the breath test, you will lose your license for at least one year even if you are not convicted of DUI. It is generally easier to fight the breath test in the DUI case than the license refusal revocation proceeding. You DO NOT have the right to wait for an attorney to come to the police station before taking the test. You DO NOT have the right to take a blood test INSTEAD OF the breath test. You do have the right to obtain any additional tests you want IN ADDITION TO the breath test. Discuss this with the attorney.
  • Do not sign papers: Do not sign any papers at the police station, except for the Driver's Hearing Request Form and the ticket for DUI. Signing the ticket is not an admission of guilt. It is just a promise to appear in court.
  • Write down what happened: Write down everything that happened as soon as you get home, while the entire incident is fresh in your mind.
  • Contact a lawyer: Contact an attorney immediately for legal advice, even if the officer did not give you a ticket.



Call 425-361-0865 for help from an experienced DUI/DWI attorney!