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DWI Defense Tips: That Everyone Should Know

Posted on January 4, 2019 by Jesse Quackenbush, Attorney

First, I want to advise that you should never drink more than 3 alcoholic beverages and drive. The risk of harm to yourself and others is too high and it is socially irresponsible. Call UBER! Call a friend. Call a taxi. Ask the bartender or server to help you find a ride. I have represented victims of DWI and their families. The lifelong pain inflicted (unnecessarily) can be avoided completely. Your decades long prison sentence can be avoided. If you are not concerned about others, then simply think of yourself and the consequences of harming your own family. The financial cost of a DWI is estimated to be more than $20,000.00. Prison sentences for intoxication manslaughter (2-20) or aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (5-99) are hard time and will ruin your life and inflict misery on your loved ones forever. It’s simply not worth the risk!

The 5th and 4th Amendments of the US Constitution provide valuable right during a DWI stop. You do not have to give evidence against yourself or allow evidence to be gathered without a warrant or probable cause. In my experience, 99 percent of the time people end up convicting themselves by running their mouth or giving the police damaging evidence, neither of which are required by any law. That being the case, the following DWI tips are your best chance of avoiding a conviction and/or getting the best deal possible. If you are not intoxicated, none of these tips apply to you. 

You have been pulled over and it’s probably late at night. The police are stalking the town looking for DWI arrests. The officer gets to your window and asks for your license and proof of insurance. Keep your eyes looking forward out the windshield to avoid making eye contact with the officer. If the officer sees your eyes he will always report your eyes were bloodshot and glassy. This is an important first clues of intoxication, which usually leads to probable cause. Don’t make eye contact and take away the officers advantage. Roll down your window just a slight crack. Why? To take away the officers chance to report that he smelled the odor of alcohol coming from your vehicle. Slide the license, insurance card AND rights notification card (attached to this post) out the small crack in the window. Do not speak any more than necessary. Yes. No. That’s it. If you carry a conversation, the officer will always report that your speech was slurred. If you follow these simple rules you have leveled the playing field and given yourself a fighting chance in court. 

The officer will try to get you to talk. Where are you going? Where are you coming from? Have you had any alcohol to drink? Just keep staring forward out the windshield and DO NOT RESPOND. You have invoked your rights by handing the card out the window. If the officer persists with questions there is a high probability that any evidence gathered will be thrown out. If you consent and answer questions you have waived your rights. The only obligation you have under the law is to provide your license and insurance. 

If the offer requests that you blow into a device or perform field sobriety testing, simply say the word “No.”It’s very hard to slur the word and it reinforces your decision to protect your rights. 

Always be polite to the officer, as you are being recorded. Do not talk on your cell phone. Do not become angry. 

You can refuse to exit your car if requested, unless you are under arrest. This is a high stakes move as it’s going to anger the officer. You might be tempted to ask if you are under are under arrest, and I suggest you do. Simply ask “am I arrested?” Keep the words limited. If he says “no,” the law allows you to remain in your car. Your rights card clearly requests that you be released if the purpose of the traffic stop is completed. if the officer opens your door and grabs your arm, do NOT resist. At that point, just be compliant. The officer will walk you to the rear of your vehicle and front of his and begin to conduct field sobriety testing. All is being videotaped. Do not lean against your vehicle for support, unless you need to. The officer is hoping you sway as you stand there and listen to instructions. Another clue of intoxication. Try to remain perfectly still. Do not repeatedly shift your weight out of boredom. You will simply say”no” after he explains each test and asks if you understand. You might very well understand, but you are trying to avoid speaking. Just say “NO.” The very first test the officer will attempt to perform is the HGN test. The officer will ask you to look straight ahead as he examines your eyes moving left to right and up and down. As the officer shines the light in your eyes, simply look down to the ground. Do not let the officer look at your eyes at any time. 

When you are placed in the police car understand you are being recorded. Keep your eyes focused out your window the entire ride. Do not speak. Do not cry. Do not show any emotion. You will be handcuffed and it’s going to be uncomfortable. The officer wants you to complain and talk on video. Don’t do it! Put up with the pain and don’t talk. 

When you get to the police station you will be placed in a room. You may be offered a seat. If so, take it. Same rules as above. Do not talk. Do not test or blow. Do not pace. Do not become angry. Do not lay down. Do not fall asleep. Do not stand on the footprints taped to the floor as there is a line in the wall in back of you that will show on video even a slight sway. Simply say “no” when asked to do so. Do not sign any forms the officer presents to you. 

If you are taken to the hospital for a blood test, do not sign any consent forms.

There are many more tips that I will share in later posts. I hope this message provides you with basic information about your rights. 

Please forward this post to anyone you know who might find it useful. 

Finally, understand that your license will be suspended for not taking the blood or breath test OR for failing the tests. So, if you fear you are intoxicated, why take the test?