Pulled Over For a DUI? What to Expect on the Road

March 20, 2020
breath analyzer for man under influence

What happens when you get pulled over for a DUI? You’ve probably seen traffic stops on television or in movies, but you might not know what would happen to you if this occurs in real life. While there is never an excuse to drink and drive, it is important that you understand the reality of what a traffic stop is like if you are pulled over. The Fairfax Virginia DUI defense attorney at Rudolphi Law can give you some guidance.

Though no two DUI cases are the same, there are several common occurrences to be expected. The first thing you should expect is to be signaled to pull over. The police officer in question will likely flash his or her emergency lights and sirens. Once you’ve been pulled over, you can expect a bit of a conversation with the officer. He or she will ask for your license and registration, and sometimes proof of insurance. At this point, the officer may ask you if you had been drinking. What he is really doing is looking for indicia of intoxication.

Some of the basic indicia of intoxication include: bloodshot, glassy, and/or watery eyes; slurred speech; odor of alcoholic beverage on your breath or person; lethargic movement; poor coordination. However, officers also look for nuances that can contribute to this as well. Were you able to follow instructions when he asked for your license and registration? How long is it taking for you to answer questions?

If the officer believes that you may have been drinking, he or she can ask that you perform a battery of roadside tests called Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs). The SFSTs that are most commonplace and approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, the 9-Step Walk and Turn, and the One Leg Stand. The officer may also ask you to recite a portion of the alphabet, count a specified set of numbers, touch your fingers with your thumb, etc. Click Here for more information about SFSTs.

At the conclusion of the roadside tests, the officer is required to offer you a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) in accordance with Virginia Code 18.2-267. This is a roadside breathalyzer that, under Virginia law, can only be used to support probable cause.

If the officer believes from your driving behavior, indicia of intoxication, performance on SFSTs, and/or your breath sample on the PBT that you are driving drunk, then the officer will arrest you for DUI. If you are pulled over for a DUI or you are already facing charges, make sure to contact the Fairfax Virginia DUI defense attorneys at Rudolphi Law to get the help that you deserve.