Drunk driving – or driving while otherwise impaired – is a serious charge which carries severe penalties. These penalties can affect your life for years, even a lifetime, so it’s important to be proactive from the moment you are pulled over to mitigate the impact that a potential OUI charge can have. Before getting pulled over in Massachusetts, you need to know your rights and how to proceed in that situation. The choices you make from the moment you are pulled over can impact your case significantly.
Regardless of your age, circumstances, or driving record, anyone facing an OUI charge should contact an experienced OUI defense attorney immediately to minimize the future impacts of the charge and to fight for the best possible outcome. Massachusetts’ The Law Offices of Joseph D. Bernard P.C. have dedicated an entire practice to OUI defense and has become one of the leading experts in the nation. Call (413)-732-9995 or text (413)-225-2072 as soon as you’re able so we can get started fighting for you.
- Pull Over Safely and Calmly
Spotting the dreaded flashing lights in your rearview mirror is enough to make anyone shake, impaired or not. The important thing when you see those lights is to remain calm and in control of the vehicle. Trying to evade police could turn a potentially minor interaction into something far more serious, making additional charges possible and giving the officer a reason to suspect abnormal behavior from the get-go. Best practice is to slow down and use your turn signal to indicate that you intend to comply. From there, you should find the closest safe place to pull over, such as a shoulder or parking lot, and pull over slowly and calmly. Once you have pulled over, you should turn off any music, open the window, turn on the dome lights and hazard lights, and turn off the car.
- Be Respectful and Compliant
The safest assumption is that your interaction with the officer will be recorded on the officer’s body worn camera and dashboard camera, so the way you interact with the officer could later serve as evidence in your case. Therefore, it’s vital that you are polite, respectful, and cooperative with the officer. Any sort of belligerence, rudeness, or acting combatively will only hurt your case and give the officer a reason to believe that there is more to suspect beyond a minor traffic infraction. You also have an absolute right to record the interaction, even if the officer says otherwise.
It’s best practice not to exit the vehicle unless the officer instructs you to do so. The exchange will likely begin with the officer approaching the window asking for your license, registration, and proof of insurance. Feel free to prepare these documents before the officer approaches, but if you do not have a chance to, let the officer know where you need to get them from and ask them for their consent to retrieve the documents. For your safety, don’t make any sudden movements without telling the officer beforehand.
- Be Careful with What You Say
Being polite and compliant doesn’t necessarily mean you have to answer the officer’s every question. In fact, doing so is not advisable. You shouldn’t lie to the police, but it’s perfectly fine to politely say that you don’t know, you don’t want to answer, you’re invoking your constitutional right to remain silent, or you’d like to speak to an attorney before answering. You should never answer the question “do you know why I pulled you over?” Doing so gives the officer the reasonable suspicion they need to proceed with the traffic stop and will be used against you.
For a suspected OUI, the officer will almost always ask if you have been drinking or are under the influence of any substances. It’s critical not to lie when answering this question. If you haven’t been drinking and are not under the influence, you can answer truthfully. If not, you should respectfully decline to answer without a lawyer present.
- Be Careful with What You Do
You are never legally required to submit to any testing without a valid warrant. Refusing field sobriety testing is perfectly reasonable, as these tests are extremely stressful and can be failed due to health conditions or anxiety alone. You can refuse field sobriety tests without consequence. However, due to Massachusetts’ implied consent laws, refusing a blood or breathalyzer test can carry its own penalties. You could face consequences for submitting to such testing and failing, but could also face penalties for refusing. It’s best practice to ask the officer to consult an attorney before submitting to any tests, so that the attorney can help you weigh the odds on whether or not submitting to the test would be a better option.
- Contact a Leading Expert in Massachusetts OUI Defense Immediately
Massachusetts takes OUI charges incredibly seriously, and the penalties can be severe. With over 50 years of experience, the expert team at The Law Offices of Joseph D. Bernard P.C. has dedicated an entire practice to fighting OUI charges zealously and relentlessly, with thousands of positive outcomes. Take control of your future and contact us today for a free, confidential consultation. You can also call us at (413)-732-9995 or text us at (413)-225-2072.