There has been increased concern lately over police officers across the country using what may be considered unlawful or unnecessary force, and much of this problem pertains to the issue of DWI traffic stops. The real problem, however, is that most drivers aren’t really aware of their own protections at these traffic stops, and they only find out about these protections after a DWI arrest process has taken place — i.e., by the time it’s too late.
So, here are just a few things that you should always keep in mind when you’re out on the road, whether you’re driving or you’re just a passenger:
- First, you have a right to refuse to talk at these stops, but if you start yelling I’m exercising my right to remain silent! it’s not going to work out well for you. You’re never required to say anything that could be self-incriminating, although you aren’t exactly allowed to flat-out lie, either. You’re allowed to refuse to answer a question — politely — but keep in mind that you’ll probably be taken in custody regardless.
- You also don’t want to give an officer any reason to search your car or any clothes on your body. Driving around with empty beer cans in the front seat, for example, is an excellent way of saying Hi, I’m probably drunk, and there are probably worse things hanging around in the backseat, too.
- If you believe that a police officer is breaking the law — searching your car without reason, or using unnecessary force, there are almost always cameras attached to police cars to document what happens. Rather than getting aggressive and fighting back, it’s often best to let it happen and then let the real events surface later on. If the officer is doing something unlawful, and if you aren’t making the situation worse by provoking him/her, then your entire case will likely be thrown out.
- Finally, remember that all states have “implied consent” drunk driving laws that go into effect once you get your driver’s license. This law states that you have given consent, just by accepting your license, to have a field sobriety test and/or a chemical test to determine your BAC level, at any time when a police officer thinks that you’ve been driving while intoxicated. A refusal to take a breathalyzer test or field sobriety test won’t get you out of trouble.
DWI traffic stops aren’t legal in every state due to the controversial aspect of invading someone’s privacy without reason. The point of these traffic stops is to reduce the number of serious accidents caused by people who are driving while intoxicated; these checkpoints have been proven to reduce alcohol-related crashes by at least 9%. That being said, if you know that you’re driving in a state that doesn’t allow these checkpoints and yet you come across one anyway, it’s best to be a little more vigilant than usual.
It should also be noted that driving while intoxicated is never, ever a good idea. It’s also an equally bad idea to touch a police officer, to make any sudden movements (like trying to run away), or to show any signs of aggression at all. The justice system is here to help you, but you have to let it help you by acting reasonable and polite. Learn more about this topic here.