Getting pulled over can be scary, especially with everything happening on the news lately. And it can be especially scary if one has been drinking before being pulled over. So, if one finds themselves in this situation, what do they do?
Remember, the police officer has discretion on whether to arrest someone, ticket them or let them off with a warning. That decision matrix begins the moment the police officer turns their lights on. As such, pull over quickly, safely and into a well-lit area, away from traffic, if possible. This information will also likely make it into the police report. Avoid anything erratic, slowing down abruptly or pulling over in a manner or to a place that is unsafe to the police officer.
Be polite and do not act suspicious or dangerous
The driver should keep their hands at 10:00 and 2:00 on the steering wheel. Roll down the windows (passenger and driver), and then turn off the car. Do not make any jerky motions to the middle console or glovebox. The driver should wait to get their documentation until asked. Say, “thank you,” “yes, sir,” or “ma’am,” as applicable, and be polite. These micro-interactions can make the difference between spending the night in one’s bed or spending the night in a holding cell.
Keep interactions short and honest
Even though the urge to lie may exist, especially if one just left a Rockwall bar, do not lie when asked questions. Everyone has the right to remain silent, but no one has the right to lie to the police. Indeed, lying can be against the law, especially when talking with a federal law enforcement official. It is OK to say, “Thank you, but I’m invoking my right to remain silent, sir.” If they ask to search the vehicle, again, it is OK to say no, just be polite about it. Just give the police officer the driver’s license, vehicle registration, insurance and, if asked, the driver should identify themselves. Even if one gets arrested, the key, at this point, is just not to make one’s case worse.
Can the driver refuse a blood alcohol concentration test?
If the driver has been drinking, it is possible that the police officer will ask the driver to take a BAC test. Unfortunately, Texas is an implied consent state, which means that refusing to take a BAC test can have consequences. Indeed, upon refusal, one will automatically have their license suspended, but they do have the right to a hearing on that suspension. For a first offense, if they lose that administrative hearing, the license is suspended for 180 days. If possible, and one does not want to lose their license, ask for a blood test, or ask to consult with a Rockwall, Texas, attorney first.