Competent & Professional DUI Defense You cannot afford to risk losing your freedom and legal rights.

Stopped by the police on the highway

Follow these instructions when you are stopped by law enforcement

1. Pull over promptly, yet safely.

When you see the overhead lights of the officer’s vehicle, and believe that you are the target of his attention, as soon as it is practical, find a safe place to pull over and using your directional signals, pull over safely to the side of the road. You get no points for slamming on your brakes, locking up your wheels, and stopping in the travel lane.

2. Once you are stopped, turn on your flashers, and await instructions from the officer.

If you can safely get your documents (driver’s license, vehicle registration, insurance card) together, it may save some time, but law enforcement officers may feel a sense of danger if you are observed digging through the glove compartment, or reaching under the seat. Be aware of the officer’s concerns, and don’t make any sudden movements or take any action which may raise suspicion or be interpreted as threatening. As a general rule, if the officer wants you to turn off your vehicle, he will tell you to do this, but there is no requirement to do so unless so directed.

3. Politely ask the officer why he stopped you.

The operative word is, of course, “politely.” You have the right to inquire why you were stopped. Generally, when a law enforcement officer is conducting an investigation, he will prefer that you follow his instructions before you begin to ask him questions, so it is prudent to do so. Sometimes, the officer will initiate the encounter with the words, “Do you know why I stopped you?” You are under no legal obligation to speculate as to his reasons for the stop, and it is entirely appropriate for you to try and pin him down on what he may have observed. By doing this, you are preventing a post arrest, pretextual justification for the stop.

4. Avoid answering loaded questions.

During the course of an investigation, an officer will attempt to have you answer questions concerning your drinking and driving that evening. Avoid, whenever possible, admitting to having had “a couple of beers” or any other amount of alcohol. You are not required to incriminate yourself, nor are you required to attempt to justify any actions you may have taken while operating a motor vehicle. Understand that you are not going to “talk your way out of a ticket” if the officer believes you are guilty of Driving Under the Influence. Don’t try, and don’t volunteer information about your conduct. DO, however, answer questions regarding your identity, such as name, address, and other personal information. You are required to identify yourself to an officer under these circumstances, however.

5. If asked to perform any roadside agility tests, you may politely decline to do so.

Officers are trained to build a case from their observations. There are three phases to an investigation. Phase I is called “vehicle in motion,” where an officer decides whether to stop you or not. Phase II is called “personal contact,” and consists largely of the roadside conversations through the driver’s window. If the officer smells alcohol on your breath, or otherwise determines that he wants to investigate further, he will proceed to Phase III, “pre-arrest screening.” It is in this phase that you may be asked to step out of your vehicle and to perform certain Field Sobriety Tests, including the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (follow the finger with your eyes), the Walk and Turn (take 9 steps up and down a line), and the One Leg Stand (stand on one leg and count).

Under Nevada law, you do not have to perform this tests. In other words, these tests are voluntary, and the officer is not permitted to draw any inference from your polite, again, stress polite, refusal to do these roadside gymnastics: “Officer, I will perform whatever tests I am required by law to perform, but I am not willing to perform any tests that I am not required, by Nevada law, to perform. Am I required, under Nevada law, to perform these tests you are asking me to perform?” Officers will virtually never tell you that the tests are voluntary unless you ask them, and even then, they are loathe to tell you the truth, falling back on the old saw, “I am not an attorney, so I cannot give you legal advice about whether to perform this test. If you have nothing to hide, however, there is no reason not to take the test.” Right.

If you have been pulled over for a DUI call me today at (775) 329-1101!

6. You must blow into the officer’s roadside breath machine.

If the officer tells you to blow into a small, handheld breath machine, you must do so under Nevada law. Be aware that if the officer asks you to blow into the machine, rather than telling you to do so, he may testify that you took the test voluntarily. Ask him if he is directing you to perform the test, or if he is leaving it up to you. If he tells you to blow and you refuse, and he has reasonable grounds to believe you are driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor, this refusal alone allows him to arrest you and take you to a place where an evidentiary test of your blood or breath can be made. The test conducted at the roadside, the “preliminary breath test,” is not accurate, but merely provides the basis for the officer to determine that a reasonable basis exists for him to take you into custody for an evidentiary test. Some officers like to shortcut the process of roadside testing by doing this roadside breath tests before any other sobriety tests are administered, but this is an incorrect procedure. Hence, ask if you are required to take the test, and if the answer is yes, then blow.

7. Observe everything.

The entire process of being flagged down by law enforcement, being subjected to an investigation where YOU are the target of that investigation, and a resulting arrest and transport to jail are extremely disorienting and traumatic for a driver. Calm down and observe everything you can, paying attention, if possible, to the order of events, the words that were used by the officer, and the manner in which you were treated. These facts will become important later, and if you are being arrested anyway, what else do you have to do other than observing things and remembering them? Don’t engage in conversation, and when questioned, you do not have the obligation to admit drinking or doing anything illegal.

8. Listen carefully to the Nevada Implied Consent reading by the officer, and choose which test, blood or breath, you wish to take.

Breath tests are easier, quicker, and have a greater margin of error. Blood tests hurt a little, take a relatively long time, and are generally more accurate. This, however, depends on your drinking pattern, and whether you are still absorbing alcohol or whether you stopped drinking a while ago. Every case is different, and it would be impossible to offer any advice as to which test you should take. However, if you wish to have a sample retested by an independent laboratory, then the blood test is the only test that provides a duplicate sample for retesting.

If this is your first arrest in 7 years for Driving Under the Influence, you are entitled to elect a breath test, if means are reasonably available to do so. For a second offense within 7 years, the officer will direct that a blood test be taken. Be advised that if you refuse to select either breath or blood, then the officer will direct a blood test be taken. A further caveat: if blood is drawn, it may be tested for the presence of other substances, including drugs and/or their metabolites. All things being equal, breath tests are easier to challenge than blood tests.

9. If you are arrested, a lawyer generally is not going to be the one you call your spouse, a friend, a boss, or whoever else you can think of.

Many people, relying upon what they see on television shows, believe that the first call they make from the jail should be to their lawyer, who will then bail them out. Unfortunately, unless you have a prearranged relationship with a lawyer, this isn’t going to happen. Call your spouse, or someone you know will have the money to bail you out. If you don’t have the money for bail (usually 10% of the bail amount is paid to a bail bondsman to have him write a bond) then sit tight, and you will be interviewed by a representative of Washoe County Court Services, and if you are a stable individual, with a residence and employment, you will likely be granted a release on your own recognizance (OR release), with conditions such as no alcohol, and check-ins on a weekly or even daily basis.

10. When you are released from jail, or as soon as possible after your arrest, write down everything that happened to you. Without delay, find a competent attorney to represent you.

Memories fade quickly, and the devil is in the details. Driving Under the Influence cases are often very defensible, but as the details are forgotten, the police version of events becomes the official version. Word to the wise: You can’t defend yourself on DUI charges. You need a competent and experienced DUI defense attorney. The earlier he or she is on board, the better.

Call the Law Offices of Walter B. Fey Immediately!

If you have been pulled over for a DUI contact me. 


Why You Should Choose The Law Office of Walter B. Fey

  1. Quality Defense, Caring Service, Solid Representation
  2. Long Background Serving as a Public Defender
  3. Member of the National College of DUI Defense
  4. Specific Training and Experience in Sobriety Testing
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