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How to protect yourself during a DUI stop

On Behalf of | May 10, 2022 | Criminal Defense

An arrest for DUI can be frightening for any West Virginia resident. It’s important to know what to do during a traffic stop to protect your rights.

Police need probable cause to stop you

The first thing you should know when a police officer stops you on suspicion of driving under the influence or DUI is that they need reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed to stop you. This could be anything from a broken light on your vehicle to driving erratically to ignoring traffic signs.

Searches of your vehicle

If a police officer stops you, they cannot search your vehicle without your explicit permission unless there’s something visibly obvious to indicate that you’re driving under the influence. For example, if there are empty beer bottles in your passenger’s seat, the officer could arrest you for DUI. However, if there’s nothing visible and the officer suspects you of drunk driving, they can’t just search your vehicle unless you permit them to do so.

When and where the stop takes place

Certain times of day and locations are more likely to result in DUI traffic stops by police. If there’s a venue or event with large groups of people and drinking involved, police are more likely to make more traffic stops, ask people questions and require them to take breath tests or field sobriety tests.

This can also happen if there’s a DUI checkpoint in place. Officers often stop certain vehicles based on the way they look. However, if your vehicle is in good condition, you’re probably less likely to be stopped.

If you’re stopped by police, be courteous. Don’t say anything incriminating. You’re under no obligation to allow officers to search your vehicle. You don’t have to submit to field sobriety tests. However, refusing a breath or blood test can result in serious consequences.