As much as we should take precautions ensuring that we never drink and drive, sometimes we find ourselves in an unavoidable scenario.
This means no wine during our meals, no beer after the game and sticking to soft drinks when everyone else is sipping some high quality scotch after work. However, we live in the real world and sometimes, we make mistakes.
If you’re a Miami resident, even just a sip of alcohol can land you a drunk driving citation. We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve been behind the wheel after having a drink or two – none of us are immune from being arrested for “drunk driving” by the authorities.
This post isn’t about ethics – it’s about real life. If you find yourself in a position where you’ve been pulled over in South Florida, what should you do?
The first and most important thing is to just remain calm – fight your instincts to panic. Take a deep breath and relax.
After seeing the red and blue lights, find a safe place and pull over as calm aspossible. What we should keep in mind is that as soon as any officer decides to pull you over, suspecting drunk driving, he or she immediately starts making observations to be put in the police report.
If you were listening to something, turn the radio off and confirm that the vehicle is in park. The officer will most likely approach from behind. By the time the officer gets to you, have the proof of insurance, license and registration ready at a reachable location.
Have your documentation ready
This are the legal requirements that we all need to be having and also what the officer has a legal right to request for. To avoid fumbling, I would advise on always keeping the license, proof of insurance and registration in one place.
Remember, we want to put ourselves at the best we can and get out of the situation without any charges. We should avoid asking any questions, or even demand to know why we have been pulled over. All that matters is that we have been stopped and who knows, it may be just a routine check.
The next step is obeying the officer’s order and handing over the requested documents. When am in such tense situations, I usually try and play a trick on my mind to gain my confidence.
Be polite, cordial and helpful
The trick involves picturing yourself at that instance playing a role in a movie. You have nothing to fear, it’s just a script and everyone goes home after shooting the scenes. Your role in the script involves staying calm and polite. If asked to step out of the vehicle, do it in a calm and relaxed manner. Being relaxed and keeping calm gives the best chances of avoiding a ticket.
By this time if luck is on our side, the officer will hand back the documents and the ordeal will be over. If not, here comes the tricky and most sensitive part. Expect series of questions in forms of “have you been drinking” or “do you know why I have stopped you”.
Now, there are countless contradicting advices on the internet and from friends on whether we should “lie” or give the officer the plain “truth”. Take my word here, most of those giving tips on what to do, act, or magic words to use have never been in such situations and care less what the repercussions are.
Let the officer do their job
However friendly or nice officers seem, don’t forget, they are on duty and in this particular case any admissions made or statements implying to the latter will be used against us. Even teetotalers would be put through the same grilling with an aim of obtaining convicting evidence.
I insist on not giving any answers to potentially incriminating questions. Politeness should still be applied in all manner possible. Here, one may try explaining that as much as you do support local law enforcement, you are exhausted and you would in all respect just want to get home.
As drivers, we have rights that we should all be aware of. Generally, the officer has two main legal rights to exercise; one is to ask for the relevant registration documents and license and the other to request you to step out of your vehicle.
When requested to step out of the vehicle and give a voluntary breath sample and any other test, we should be firm but polite and explain that we do not wish to participate in any of the sobriety tests. At this juncture, the officer might place you under arrest and ask you to choose either a blood or breathe test depending on the jurisdiction.
Whichever you choose, maintain your calm and by the end of it all there will be little evidence to use against you in a court of law. There will be no confessions, no FSTs, just some chemical test that won’t hold much water in a court.
Bottom line, you should never drink and drive. However, if you should find yourself in a position where you’re behind the wheel after consuming alcohol just remember to remain calm and let the officer do their job.