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What Should You Do if Pulled Over for a Possible DUI?

What Should You Do if Pulled Over for a Possible DUI?
By: Martin LaScola

It’s the holiday season and it is time to celebrate, which means you need to know what to do if you are pulled over for suspicion of DUI. To celebrate responsibly, you may first wish to check out what constitutes a DUI in Illinois. It may surprise you with what you learn.

Suppose you are driving home after New Year’s Eve revelry when you see flashing lights in your rear view mirror. You may or may not be driving under the influence, but there are simple steps to follow should a law enforcement officer decides to pull you over. Let’s take a look at what the Illinois Secretary of State suggests in the 2017 Illinois DUI Fact Book, available at www.cyberdriveillinois.com.

Safety is Priority One

Follow these suggestions on what to do if you are pulled over for a possible DUI. They are vital for the safety of you, your passengers, other drivers and law enforcement, regardless of why you are being stopped.

  • After slowing down, pull over to the right-hand shoulder of the roadway. If there is no shoulder, or it is narrow, travel to the next safest stop and pull over. Do not stop in the lane of traffic, or on a bridge, next to guardrails or concrete walls or median, or any place where it would be difficult for other vehicles to pass.
  • Stay in the vehicle with both hands on the steering wheel, clearly in sight. Always keep them on the steering wheel unless the officer directs you to do otherwise.
  • Do not be proactive and exit the vehicle unless the police officer asks you to do so. The officer may see this action, taken by you or a passenger, as a threat to their safety which could lead to an unintended encounter.
  • Comply with an officer’s request to see your license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration. If any of these items are in a glove box, under the seat, in a console or stored for display on a cell phone, tell the officer where they are located and then follow his/her instructions. Keep in mind that you are required to have a valid driver’s license, insurance and registration to operate a vehicle.
  • If you are concerned because you cannot readily identify an unmarked police vehicle or the driver as law enforcement, you have the right to guard your safety. You can drive slowly to a safe location, such as:
    • A well-lit populated spot
    • The nearest police station, where you can try to attract the attention of a uniformed officer
    • Or, call 9-1-1

To communicate your intentions to the unidentified police officer, activate the hazard lights as you drive to an alternative location.

  • If the traffic stop is at night, you can turn on the interior light of your vehicle.

Ticket Issuance

Drivers deserve courteous treatment by law enforcement officers. This is more likely to happen if you, in turn, respect the police officer and their role. Sometimes, the police officer may not inform you of why you were stopped until after you present your vehicle registration, insurance card and driver’s license. Do not demand a reason prior to handing over this documentation.   The motorist does not have the control in this situation and any attempt to assert control by the motorist will likely lead to an unfavorable police encounter.

If the traffic stop results in a ticket or arrest, make certain you:

  • Do not argue with the officer or debate the charge. If you believe the ticket was unfairly issued, you will have your opportunity to consult with an attorney upon your release, and present your case in court.
  • Do not refuse to sign the ticket if you are merely issued a petty traffic infraction. This is a way to keep your Illinois Driver’s License under the new law, and does not imply that you are guilty. It is simply an acknowledgement that you received the ticket. Failure to do so may result in your license being taken by the officer and held as bond.
  • While cooperation is recommended for most minor violations, it is not always in your interest to fully comply in more serious situations. If you are suspected of driving under the influence, it may be wise to refuse both field sobriety testing and/or breath testing. This could help limit the amount of evidence that the prosecution can use against you if the case later proceeds to trial.
  • Whether you consent to testing or refuse, the license will be suspended 46 days from the arrest date by refusing breath, blood or urine testing. It is true that a refusal of these test(s) will result in a lengthier license suspension – but the criminal charges will be more difficult to prove without evidence that you are above the legal limit of alcohol or test positive for drugs.  For “first offenders”, the ability to drive during the suspension is allowed by use of a Monitored Device Driving Permit.  This requires the installation of a breath monitor in your vehicle known as a BAIID.
  • Only if you are certain that your BAC level will be below the .08 and/or there are no illegal drugs in your system, would it be in your interest to consent to breath, blood or urine testing. BAC levels below .08 will not result in any suspension of driving privileges after the arrest.
  • Do not resist arrest if taken into custody by law enforcement.
  • Do give your name and address to the officer, as they are legally obligated to document all traffic stops, even if they do not result in a ticket.

Next Steps

If you believe a law enforcement officer acted inappropriately during a traffic stop, report the conduct promptly to the officer’s supervisor. They are required to give you their name and badge number if you ask for it. Written complaints can be filed with the agency’s internal affairs division or civilian complaint board.

We encourage you to celebrate responsibly and follow these tips on what to do if you are pulled over for a possible DUI. If you do need help with an arrest for a DUI or other traffic violation, contact Gardi & Haught for a consultation today or request a free case evaluation below.

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