How do I handle a traffic stop in West Virginia when the officer suspects me of DUI?
Virtually since the day I started practicing WV DUI defense in the Fall of 1999, I have been routinely asked by many friends, colleagues, family members as well as strangers throughout our country on how to handle a DUI traffic stop in West Virginia. What should I say? What do I do? Do I submit to any roadside field sobriety tests, portable breath test, or police station breath test or blood test? Do I agree to be interviewed? Do I ask for an independent blood test? On and on.
Here at The Wagner Law Firm, West Virginia’s premier DUI Defense Firm, Harley O. Wagner, Esq., has developed nine (9) easy-to-follow rules on handling a DUI traffic stop in West Virginia that if followed, will greatly increase the chances of your DUI case ultimately ending favorably as can be hoped for, for you, a friend, or a loved one.
Here are my 9 rules for what you should do if you get pulled over for suspected drunk driving or drugged driving:
Rule #1: Always be mannerly and polite to the police officer. Do not engage in any abusive language or threatening conduct that can and likely will result in additional charges. Also, your arresting officer will not wish to negotiate your case in good faith down the road due to said behavior. This also applies to begging or bribing conduct of any kind.
Rule #2 of The Wagner Law Firm when handling a DUI traffic stop/arrest is to always have your license, registration, and insurance certificate documents located in your vehicle where all can be easily obtained and provided. So, there is no fumbling, looking around in your car, etcetera, which an officer will use to suggest down the road in court that due to your intoxication you couldn’t even locate your documents. Conversely, I opened my glove box and handed them to the officer without any problem, all checked out fine, etc.
Rule #3 of The Wagner Law Firm when handling a DUI traffic stop/arrest is to remember your 5th amendment constitutional right to remain silent. Translated: This means to be quiet and say as little as possible! For instance: “Have you been drinking?” “How much have you had to drink?” “Where are you coming from?” To any and all of these types of roadside questions by a law enforcement, your response should be along these lines, “Officer, I have done nothing wrong and I have committed no crime. I do not wish to answer any further questions without my attorney present.” Do NOT give the typical answer of, “I’ve had a couple.” Make no admissions of any kind. Period.
Rule #4 of The Wagner Law Firm when handling a DUI traffic stop/arrest is to politely decline any requested roadside testing by law enforcement, which includes any and all field sobriety testing or roadside breath testing. “Officer, I do not wish to take any roadside field or breath tests and wish to call my lawyer.” If you have the odor of alcohol on your breath and you have been pulled over, the chances are astronomically high that you are going to be arrested regardless of what you say or do. So, be quiet, make no admissions and do not agree to submit to any roadside testing. In short, do not help them convict you for DUI.
Rule #5 of The Wagner Law Firm when handling a DUI traffic stop/arrest is to never consent to have your person or your vehicle searched by law enforcement. This goes the same for any passengers that may be in your vehicle. Be quiet, make no admissions against you, the driver or anyone else in the vehicle and do not consent to any search of your person either.
Rule #6 of The Wagner Law Firm fifth when handling a DUI traffic stop/arrest is not to challenge or confront a law enforcement officer when he or she goes to arrest you. Be compliant and do not resist. Again, make no admissions and if necessary reiterate your desire to speak with your attorney.
Rule #7 of The Wagner Law Firm when handling a DUI traffic stop/arrest is to decline all breath testing at the police station post-arrest, continue to remain silent, making no admissions of any kind, and again advise of your desire to speak with your attorney. As a previous DUINewsBlog.org article by The Wagner Law Firm has explained, “refusing” the breath machine in modern-day West Virginia is absolutely the way to go. On a first offense DUI case with no DUI criminal or license suspension history, you will be eligible to ultimately have your case dismissed and record of your arrest ultimately expunged as if never occurred. Submitting to breath testing at a police station post a DUI arrest greatly increases the chances of your DUI case not being able to be easily or favorably resolved once court proceedings present.
Rule #8 of The Wagner Law Firm in handling a DUI traffic stop/arrest is not to concern yourself with whether you should request a blood test or not. Breath testing is the designated testing in West Virginia, not blood. A citizen would want to request a blood test only if the officer was alleging you had been drinking when you had not; and, you have nothing illegal whatsoever in your system at the time.
Rule #9 of The Wagner Law Firm in handing a DUI traffic stop/arrest is to never agree to be interviewed or questioned by law enforcement at the police station, just as you have been told not to so agree at the roadside. Remain silent. Make no admissions. Ask to speak with your attorney. Period.
Follow these nine simple rules by The Wagner Law Firm when handling a DUI traffic stop/arrest in West Virginia and you will give yourself a far better chance for your DUI case to be successfully resolved.