Getting pulled over is never fun, and almost always a daunting experience. It helps to be prepared and informed of your rights and constraints when pulled over by a police officer. You want to remain calm and aware, as to not instigate the situation or give the police officer a reason to be suspicious.
If you should find yourself in a situation where you have been pulled over, first things first, remain in the car. Officers are far more likely to become defensive if you jump out of the car without permission. The officer does not know if you are armed and dangerous, or if you are going to flee the scene, so its best just to remain in the car until further instruction. The last thing you want to do is to aggregate the situation.
However just because you have been pulled over, it does not mean you are without your rights. Under the Constitution you have a 5th amendment right to be silent and protect yourself from self-incrimination. You do not have to tell the officer how many drinks you may have had nor, do you have any legal obligation to answer any interrogative questions. Being silent is sometimes the best option at a time such as this, especially if you really have been drinking. By exercising that right to silence you are preventing the officer from later testifying to any of your statements that may have been perceived as slurred or disorganized. This is a useful tool because sometimes when in that type of situation, the nervousness of the situation can create momentary confusion and stumbling of words which could suggest intoxication.
Next, the officer will likely ask for license and registration which you are required to give. In state of Kentucky, driving is considered a privilege and by possessing a license and operating a vehicle in the state you must submit such information when asked for it by an officer. If the officer believes that you have been drinking, he may ask you step out of the car to conduct a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer test. It is your right to refuse the Field Sobriety Test, which is a preliminary test officers can administer to determine alcohol concentration. (Ky. Rev.Stat. Ann 281A.230). These tests take a measure of your coordination or balance, which of course sometimes isn’t the most accurate way of determining intoxication. You are allowed to refuse consent in taking such tests without that refusal being used against you in litigation at a later time.
A breathalyzer test however, may not be refused. As a motor vehicle operator in the state of Kentucky you are deemed to give consent to blood, breath, urine testing for alcohol determination. (Ky.Rev.Stat.Ann. 281A.220). Refusal of giving a breathalyzer permits the officer to take you into custody, which sometimes may be the best option. It is at that time you request to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney such as the criminal defense attorney Newport KY locals turn to about the best way to go forward.
Thanks to authors at James Noll Law for their insight into Criminal Defense Law.