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  • Writer's pictureJustin Sparks

What Happens When You Get Pulled Over for a DUI?

Being pulled over and accused of drinking and driving can be a stressful situation. When someone doesn't know what their rights are when they're stopped, it can add a lot of stress to their life. A police officer makes observations throughout the case, so it's crucial to understand how they conduct the investigation from the time the driver is stopped until they're arrested for DUI or DWI and released.

Expect the following if you are accused of drunk driving and are stopped by the authorities:

  • The stop

  • The initial investigation

  • Roadside and field sobriety tests

  • The arrest

  • Release

Law Enforcement Stop

Law Enforcement Stop

One can be stopped by a police officer for a variety of reasons. They may have noticed the driver swerving, or they might have stopped someone for a minor traffic infraction, such as a broken tail light. They start writing down any observations they make as soon as they decide to pull the person over, particularly if they suspect that the driver has been drinking or taking drugs.

When a police officer approaches the vehicle, they first ask for the person's driver's license and registration. If the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person was driving while intoxicated, they are going to search for symptoms of impairment such as the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, or red eyes to document in the police report.

What to Do When You're Pulled Over

If you've been pulled over, don't aggravate the issue. To stay safe and avoid aggravating the situation, keep these pointers in mind.

  • Look for a safe spot to pull over

  • Make no erratic or suspicious motions

  • Be courteous

The driver can submit a petition to suppress in court if it is determined that the police officer had no reason to stop the vehicle. This could result in the lawsuit being dismissed entirely.

Can the Police Search Your Car?

In most cases, police can search someone's automobile without a warrant if they have probable cause to suspect there is incriminating evidence within. During a DUI stop, an officer can notice or smell something that leads them to believe there are narcotics in the vehicle. If this is the case, authorities may be justified in examining not only the inside of your vehicle, but also the trunk, glove box, and other items such as backpacks. Consent of the driver is another typical rationale for a car search: If someone gives the police permission to check inside their car, they can usually do so.

Police Questioning

During a DUI stop, officers nearly always inquire if the driver has had any alcohol. Most drivers respond with something along the lines of "just a beer or two with dinner," which is frequently an underestimation of how much they actually drank. Police officers who have heard these kinds of comments a thousand times aren't likely to stop there—more so if there are other signs that the person is inebriated or under the influence of drugs. Most cops want to probe more after receiving confirmation that the driver has been drinking—regardless of much was consumed.

Officer Observations

The officer usually starts traffic detention by asking for the driver's license and registration. If the driver displays indications of impairment during this contact, such as fumbling with their paperwork or smelling like alcohol or drugs, the policeman is likely to notice. Any such observations are almost certainly going to be recorded in the police report, which the offender is only able to see for the first time in court.

DWI or DUI Investigation

If the police officer has reasonable suspicion that the individual was driving under the influence during the stop, they can carry on with the investigation. If the person has been drinking, police officers might inquire about how much they drank, what they drank, and when they last drank.

Any observations made by the police officer are recorded in the police report to verify their suspicions. They take note of any anxiousness or other behavior that suggests the person had a few drinks.

Furthermore, they also ask the person to conduct roadside field tests if they believe they were able to confirm that the individual has been drinking.

Roadside Tests

The officer who pulled the driver over is going to gather evidence to utilize in court at this point. Police officers can use a roadside test to assess the person's state of intoxication and estimate their blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

To acquire this evidence, police often conduct two types of voluntary tests. They are capable of performing a field sobriety test (FST) as well as a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS).

Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety testing is performed to physically assess the person's level of intoxication. An officer asks the person to exit their vehicle and do a series of exercises that an individual who has not consumed alcohol can normally perform at an acceptable level.

The following are examples of common field sobriety tests:

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus HGN)

  • One-leg stand

  • Walk and turn

Keep in mind that people are not required to conduct a field sobriety test by law. If someone refuses to do an FST, their license may be suspended. Even if they pass the field sobriety test, the police may refuse to release them at this time.

Preliminary Alcohol Screening Tests (PAS)

A PAS device (also known as a portable breath test) is used by police officers to determine someone's blood alcohol concentration. Furthermore, a blood or breath test performed at a police station or hospital is generally more reliable than PAS tests. They let the police swiftly analyze the person's degree of intoxication in order to determine if a DUI or DWI arrest is warranted.

Getting a DUI Arrest

If the officer who stopped the person believes they have probable cause to arrest them, they have the authority to detain the driver and transport them to the police station.

Here's what the authorities are most likely going to do:

  • Charge and cite the individual for the infraction

  • Read the offender their Miranda rights

  • Inform the person about implied consent

  • Take away their driver's license and issue the offender with a temporary permit

  • Hold them until they are released on their own recognizance or until they are bailed out

There is also the matter of probation—the duration of probation for DUI depends on the gravity of your offense and the charges held against you.

Mandatory Chemical Tests and Implied Consent Laws

In all 50 states, there is "implied consent" legislation that requires anyone arrested for DWI or DUI to submit to a chemical test. A chemical test is used to determine the amount of alcohol or drugs in an individual's system. It is usually done through a blood or breath test.

Implied consent laws must be disclosed to the driver by police personnel. If they don't, keep this in mind since it could be useful in the defense.

If someone refuses to take these tests, they may be subjected to the following penalties:

  • License suspension

  • Fines

  • Installation of an ignition interlocking device (IID)


Any personal possessions not being used as evidence must be returned to the police station officials upon discharge. People must wait at least 12 hours after being notified that they can pick up their car from the tow yard.

Individuals should write down as many details as they can recall about everything that transpired during the entire procedure, beginning with getting pulled over as soon as possible. Even if you don't think it is important, it could be valuable to the criminal defense lawyer as they put together the DUI or DWI defense.

Things to take note of include:

  • Before you were pulled over, where were you and what were you doing?

  • How long did it take you to stop drinking? How much did you drink?

  • When and if the Miranda rights were recited to you

  • If you were not informed of the regulations governing implied consent

  • The mannerisms of the police officers and the orders they gave you

The Police Report

The Police Report

If someone has been arrested for drunk driving, they are undoubtedly going to want to view the police report as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the arrested driver won't get a copy of the police report until their arraignment, which is their first day in court. A legal team can use the police report to gain the police officer's side of the story about the DUI charge during the discovery process.

Contact a DUI or DWI Lawyer from Sparks Law Firm Today!

A DWI or DUI charge is a serious offense that can result in fines, jail time, or both. The best line of action is to get expert and knowledgeable Fort Worth DUI lawyers to analyze the case and defend you. If you are concerned about how long a DWI stays on your record in Texas, it would be best to avoid it altogether with a good lawyer by your side.

Sparks Law Firm has a team of seasoned criminal defense attorneys who have worked on a variety of DUI or DWI cases to get the best possible results. Contact us for a no-obligation, free consultation to discuss the specifics of the case and discover how we can assist you! We value the attorney-client relationship and always fight aggressively for our client's rights.


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