What Happens If You’re Stopped On Suspicion of A DUI?

If you’re stopped by law enforcement on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), a typical sequence of events might unfold as follows:

  1. Initial Stop: The officer pulls you over, typically because of a traffic violation, erratic driving, or a checkpoint. The officer will approach and ask for your license, registration, and proof of insurance.
  2. Observation: The officer will observe your behavior, looking for signs of impairment such as slurred speech, the smell of alcohol, red or glassy eyes, or fumbling with your documents.
  3. Questioning: The officer might ask if you’ve been drinking or using drugs. Remember, you have the right to remain silent, and anything you say can be used against you.
  4. Field Sobriety Test: If the officer suspects you’re under the influence, they may ask you to perform a series of field sobriety tests. These could include the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, the walk-and-turn test, or the one-leg stand test.
  5. Preliminary Alcohol Screening: The officer may ask you to blow into a handheld breathalyzer device. This test is designed to estimate your blood alcohol content (BAC).
  6. Arrest: If the officer has probable cause to believe you’re impaired – based on your performance on the field sobriety tests, the preliminary alcohol screening, or other observations – you can be arrested for DUI.
  7. Chemical Test: After your arrest, you’ll be asked to submit to a more accurate chemical test to measure your BAC, typically via a breath, blood, or, less commonly, urine test. Refusal can lead to serious penalties, including a longer driver’s license suspension.
  8. Booking: If you fail the chemical test (typically meaning your BAC was 0.08% or higher), you’ll be booked into jail, your driver’s license may be confiscated, and you’ll be given a notice of suspension.

Keep in mind that the specifics of this process can vary by jurisdiction, and the consequences can depend on factors like your history of DUI offenses. Also remember, if you are arrested for a DUI, it’s advisable to seek legal representation as soon as possible to protect your rights.