When you’ve been stopped for suspected drinking and driving, and the officer utters those magic words – “Have you been drinking tonight?” – remember, that if you do any of officer’s tests, or answer his questions, then the results will be used against you in court.

I want you to perform for the judge, and not for the officer. When asked to take any tests, politely decline. This is how you do it: If you have a cell phone, simply say to the officer, “Before I take any tests, or answer any questions, I want to call my lawyer.” You can call myself, or any other attorney, and we’ll talk to you.

(Funny thing is, the officer isn’t going to let you call a lawyer… but what’s more American than legal representation while being subjected to the test that can drastically change your life?)

The officer will again ask that you perform the field sobriety tests. Again, politely decline, and say, “Before I take any tests or answer any questions, I want to call my lawyer.” Any attorney would agree that they don’t want their clients dancing like fools on the side of the road. Know that EVENTUALLY, that officer will have to testify, and that will be in front of a judge… and guess what? The judge is a lawyer. And what judge won’t wonder why the officer didn’t allow you to call an attorney?

When you decline the second time, the officer will arrest you for DUI. This was going to happen anyway, but you’ve minimized the evidence against you. You’ll be taken to the station, and you’ll be asked to take a chemical breath test. Again, politely refuse the test, and make the request to speak to your attorney. Why? Because if they don’t, then you have an excellent administrative issue working in your favor. Simply refusing could result in a license suspension for up to 280 days for first timers and up to 2 years for second timers.

The only way around that is the ignition interlock system. What happens when you do call me in the middle of the night – if you’re local in Annapolis – I’ll ask you, “How many drinks have you had?” If you say 4, and you’re telling the truth, then during the next two hours it takes me to get to the station to perform my own test, your blood alcohol content is getting lower with time. In the past, I’ve had a handful of cases that after I’ve arrived to the station, and we perform the test together; my clients have blown a .06 or lower. So, they have no case. In any case, blowing high or low, time is on your side when politely refusing the test or answer questions until speaking with your attorney.

Just as important, there could be a difference in high blow scenarios. If you blow a .15 or more, then your license is going to be suspended without modification except by participation in the ignition interlock system. But, if you’re below a .15, and it’s the first time, I can keep you on the road with a restricted license, allowing you to drive to and from work and any alcohol classes you may be going to. Often times there are cases that you don’t want to blow at all. (Namely, if there’s an accident and someone is injured.) In those cases, I would recommend never to take a test.

If you’ve been arrested for DUI or DWI, you need a skilled Annapolis defense lawyer on your side. You can contact my office – Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law – through this form or by calling 410.777.8103.

Don’t panic if you get stopped. Just remember: Keep Calm – and Call Drew.