Do's and don'ts
1. Pull over properly and carefully. Slow down and pull off the road to the right. Use your turn signal to indicate your intent to the officer. Pull over to the curb, just as if you were parking (if there are available spaces). It shows the officer you are in an observant, controlled state of mind.
2. Turn off the engine and Stay in the car. First, turn off the engine and any music. If it is dark outside, turn on the interior light and keep your hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2. Stay in the car unless/until the officer asks you to get out. At this point, you don't know why you have been pulled over; it could be because of how you have been driving, what vehicle you are driving, or because the police are following up on reports they’ve been given about cars and occupants involved in recent crimes.
3. Don't Move Around in the Car; Keep Still. Police Officers are trained to view almost any movement as suspicious and assume you are trying to hide, destroy or dispose of something. They'll use any excuse to escalate the encounter and try to search your car.
4. Do what the officer says. Listen to what the officer says and follow his/her instructions. This is the best way to make the interaction go quickly. It sucks, but the officer is in charge and it’s not over until you are told you can leave.
5. Don't volunteer information and don't argue! Just answer the officer’s questions, and don’t volunteer extra information. Charm won't help. You can't intimidate them. Sarcasm can literally get you hurt. This is not the time to ask for badge numbers or challenge what they say. Use all of that energy to try to memorize the encounter. Tell your passengers to follow the same rules. This will be helpful when you sit down with your attorney later.
6. Did you have anything to drink tonight? How much? Police officers routinely ask this question and most people usually respond with “just a beer or two with dinner." Officers believe people underestimate what they report and double anything you say. You may have had just one glass of wine with dinner, but when you tell the officer, he assumes it was two or more! And whatever amount you say, will end up in the police report as an "admission." It’s ALWAYS best to remain silent or answer that you don't remember exactly what you had to drink.
7. Think carefully about whether you want to participate in BAC testing. Refusing to take the BAC test will result in immediate license suspension and possible revocation. However, if you have been drinking, it may be in your best interest not to take the test. You will be asked to participate in coordination tests, such as the “walk and turn,” "nose touch" or “one leg stand” tests. These are voluntary and you may refuse to take them. But if you are VERY certain that you 1. have not been drinking and 2. are not super tired, you may want to take the coordination tests. In my experience, good results help more than bad results hurt.
8. Keep track of your vehicle. Will the police let you keep it parked on the street? Will they let you call a friend to pick it up? Offer options to keep them from getting the car towed to a NYC tow yard. That's a money making scheme for the city and it can cost you hundreds of dollars and a lot of stress to get the car back.
9. Remember that being very tired can mimic the effects of drinking. Being tired or sleepy can effect your coordination, response time, and thinking. I've had more than one client who later realized they must have fallen asleep at the wheel. You may not have been drinking but depending on what the officer observed (or says they observed) you should still follow most of these steps. Poor driving can result in traffic infractions or even a charge of reckless driving.
10. Contact an attorney as soon as possible.