A DUI charge is one of the most seriously taken and stigmatized charges in Washington. You probably feel like you’re being treated like a criminal even before you’ve been convicted. You’re upset with yourself for getting in this situation as is your family. You’re wondering, “What do I do now? How do I handle all the interrogation?” Looking for and retaining a defense attorney is a good start. There are also some things you should do and some things you shouldn’t do when dealing with the police.
Here is what you should not do. Don’t be rude or condescending. Remember that the police are people doing their job. When you’re doing your job do you give the best service to those who mistreat you? We all try to, after all it’s our job, but it’s difficult isn’t it? If an officer wants to arrest you, they can usually find a reason. So, don’t make them want to.
Also, don’t give any incriminating statements. Remember that any information given can and will be used against you. This is not the time to say, “Give me a second, I’m a little buzzed”, “But I only had a little to drink” or anything similar. I realize that you’re probably thinking, “Well, of course, I know that, anyone would know that.” You would be surprised how often what “everyone knows” gets forgotten by people when dealing with the police. The reason is due to something else that “everyone knows” – being stopped or interrogated by the police, even in a totally innocent situation, is generally a high stress situation. In a high stress situation people usually get either nervous or angry or scared even when they have no reason to be. Then, because of the way our brains are wired, we stop thinking as clearly as we normally do. So, it’s hard, but try to remain as calm as possible and watch what you say.
Don’t answer any questions or do any tests without getting the advice of your defense attorney. It would rarely ever be advisable to take the “voluntary” field sobriety tests. These are almost never in your favor and they are, indeed, completely voluntary. As it is mandatory to avoid a license suspension, it is actually likely that that an attorney will advise you to take the breath test given at the station but get that advice first. If you do choose to talk to the police, which you should not do, do not lie – that will actually make your situation harder. Again, you are advised to wait to talk until your defense attorney is present – you can be penalized for lying, not for silence. It’s your constitutional right and one which it is advisable to take advantage of. On a related note, when you talk to your defense attorney you will continue to want to be honest and then as open as possible. The more information you give him, the more he can help you.
Here is what you should do. Do be polite and respectful. It’s the flip side of what I said before. Remember that people respond to how they are treated and just because they have a badge doesn’t make police any different from other people when it comes to that. Will being nice guarantee a positive result? No, of course not, but it can’t hurt you. Does being rude or nasty guarantee a negative result? No, but it can’t help you.
Do give your license, registration and insurance info when asked. This is a legal requirement. In fact, it would be best to have these documents ready for the officer before he comes to your window. If you already have them, it can’t be said you were visually struggling while trying to get them.
The quick, easy answer is the following “Officer, am I free to go?” If no, “then I would like to speak with an attorney” Decline to answer any further until an attorney is contacted. It is the obligation of the officer to get you in touch with an attorney. Public defenders are kept on call for this purpose. If you are free to go then do just that. Do not say any snappy last comments. Just thank the Officer and be on your way.
Do call your defense attorney as soon as you’re given a chance. It’s generally advisable to politely refuse to talk at all until you are able to speak with your defense attorney. Also, do follow the advice of your Pierce County/Tacoma defense attorney. They want to get you your best result possible. Plus they know the law and have experience in the courts – it makes sense to lean on and trust their expertise; they will be using both for you. Please call Smith & White, PLLC – the first consult is free.