Let’s start with the obvious: you should never drink and drive. Not
only can drunk driving endanger your life and the lives of others, a conviction of
driving while intoxicated (DWI) can bring serious consequences and negatively affect your life for years
to come. With that being said, in the real world, you do not have to be
legally drunk in order to be pulled over and charged with DWI. Even if
you are behind the wheel with only a fractional percentage of alcohol
in your system, you can still find yourself in handcuffs. Fortunately,
by maintaining an awareness of your rights during a DWI traffic stop,
you can minimize your chances of being wrongfully accused of DWI and stay
out of trouble.
When Can I Be Pulled Over?
You may only be pulled over if a law enforcement officer has a reasonable
suspicion to believe you may be doing something wrong, known as probable
cause. A police officer must be able to see some visible sign of wrongdoing
before stopping you, such as a busted taillight, erratic driving, or expired
registration tags on your license plate. Otherwise, you may not be pulled over.
Should I Speak to the Police Officer?
It is important that you remain calm and compliant with the officer, but
other than providing your identifying information, you do not need to
answer any questions they may ask. The officer will likely ask you a series
of questions in order to determine if you have been drinking, such as
your destination, where you were previously, or flat out asking if you
have had any alcoholic beverages. It is important you do not answer these
questions and that you exercise your Fifth Amendment rights. Since anything
you say can be held against you later on in court, it is best to just
The police will be on the lookout for the following signs of intoxication:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Slurred or confused speech
- Smell of alcohol on your breath
- Uncoordinated, jerky movements
Should I Take a Handheld Breathalyzer?
If you have not been arrested, you are not required to consent to any sort
of handheld breathalyzer or roadside sobriety test that the officer may
request. Like the questioning that likely precedes these them, field sobriety
tests conducted only for the purpose of giving an officer probable cause
to secure your arrest and only serve to hurt you in the long run. Do not
consent to these tests, even if you think you may easily pass them.
This may frustrate an officer and prompt them to threaten you. If you are
threatened to take a field sobriety test, clearly state that you will
perform them but do not provide your consent. This statement can be used
later in court to suppress the results of these tests. The only time you
will be required to take a breath test is if you have already been arrested.
Chemical tests in Maryland are mandatory and can bring a long driver’s
license suspension if refused. If you are arrested, it is highly recommended
you submit to a chemical test and get in touch with a skilled lawyer at
your earliest convenience.
Can the Police Search My Car?
The police officer may wish ask to search your vehicle during this time,
as they will be looking for open alcohol containers or drugs in order
to pile more charges onto your situation. Police officers are not allowed
to search your vehicle without your consent or a search warrant. Do not
ever knowingly permit a law enforcement official to search your vehicle
without a warrant.
Contact William R. Hall, P.A.
If you should ever be arrested for DWI, it is imperative you retain the
services of a powerful
criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to protect your future and freedom against
serious consequences. At William R. Hall, P.A., our knowledgeable Salisbury
DWI lawyers have handled more than 4,000 criminal cases and can provide
the hard-hitting representation you need to maximize your chances of securing
a favorable outcome for your situation.
Call (410) 205-1684 or
schedule a no-cost, no-obligation case review today to get started.