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Avoiding DUI Traffic Stops

Avoiding DUI Traffic Stops

As a prosecutor of over 20 years, I have to start this blog with the obvious statement that if you are drunk, don’t drive. Just don’t do it! You don’t want to hurt someone else or yourself, wreck your car or damage someone else’s property. And finally, don’t drive drunk because you don’t want to get arrested, lose your license, pay huge fines, have your insurance go through the roof and perhaps even lose your job.

That said, let’s move to the real world where you do not have to drive drunk to be arrested and found guilty of drunk driving. If you drink and drive, no matter how conservatively, there is a real possibility that you could be stopped, arrested, and convicted of DUI.  Unfortunately, all it takes these days is an officer to find you behind the wheel of a car with the smell of alcohol on your breath and you are in big trouble.

How do you avoid being caught up in a DUI nightmare? The safest answer is to avoid drinking and driving altogether. That means no beer at the ball game, no wine with dinner, no drinking at holiday parties, sticking to soft drinks at wedding receptions… you get the picture.  For those who drink responsibly and choose to drive afterward, my years as a prosecutor have shown me a number of simple things you can do to lessen the likelihood of being stopped by over zealous law enforcement officers anxious to meet their DUI arrest quotas.  This article will focus on a few of these tips.

Don’t Draw Attention to Your Vehicle.

Police officers need an excuse (or a reasonable articulable suspicion) to stop your car. Frankly, they can always come up with an excuse to stop any vehicle, but if given the choice, they will stop those with the most obvious violations. Here are a few of the most common reasons officers give for making stops as a pretext to finding DUI offenders:

  1. Equipment Violations. 

    Faulty headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are certain to get law enforcement’s attention. Officers also focus on darkly tinted windows, loud exhaust pipes and cracked windshields.

  2. Conspicuous Vehicles. 

    Every teenage boy understands that police officers love to pick on muscle cars and expensive vehicles.  Drive a vehicle that will not draw their attention.

  3. Improperly Registered or Uninsured Vehicles.

    Officers trolling for DUIs spend countless hours lookingfor cars with expired registration, no insurance or vehicles registered to people with warrants or other criminal histories. When they find a vehicle that meets these criteria, especially late at night, officers will always find an excuse topull that car over.

  4. Seatbelt Violations.  

    Wear your seatbelt!  Officers love to pick on people who don’t wear their seatbelt.

Obey Traffic Laws.  

I know I am stating the obvious, but violating a traffic law will certainly attract the attention of the police.  It is virtually impossible to drive more than a mile or two without violating some traffic law, so avoid having officers follow you by pulling into an open convenience store parking lot or finding a closer destination.

  1. Overly Cautious Vehicles.

    Be aware that driving overcautiously will also attract the police.  Pay attention to what you are doing, stay with the flow of traffic and remain inconspicuous.

  2. Texting or Talking on thePhone While Driving.  

    Over the last few years as a prosecutor, I began to see a new phenomena occurring with DUI stops.  In many cases, drivers were texting or talking on their phones when they were pulled over.  Given the recent studies claiming that texting or talking on the phone creates drivers more dangerous than those who are DUI, it is easy to see the cause of this new focus.  If you choose to drink and get behind the wheel, and text, you increase your risk of getting pulled over substantially!

Avoid Driving at a Time or Location Where Police Focus on DUI Enforcement.

Avoid driving through areas with a large concentration of taverns, bars or nightclubs, especially around closing time.  The police have special DUI enforcement shifts on holiday weekends and special events like concerts or sports events. Taking the longer, less traveled route may turn out to be a short cut in the long run!

If you do get stopped by the police, be sure you know what to say and do when you are questioned and asked to perform field sobriety tests!  If you don’t know, be sure to read my next blog.

If you have been arrested for DUI, don’t wait.  You only have 10 days after the arrest to request a driver’s license hearing! You need an experienced ExProsecutor on your side who knows what to do to protect your rights and ability to drive.

For a free consultation about your case, call Lorenzo Miller at (385) 232-5456.