In Washington state, law enforcement officers must see a traffic violation or be suspicious that a crime is being committed to conduct a traffic stop. The law does not allow officers simply to pull you over and check your driver's license and registration. Once you are pulled over, the officer is permitted to detain you for a reasonable amount of time while he or she conducts the investigation.
Here are some tips on how to behave during this traffic stop and DUI investigation.
Be Polite and Do Not Answer Questions
During the investigation, the officer may ask you a number of questions: “Where are you coming from?” “Did you have anything to drink tonight?” “What were you doing?” The law does not require that you answer any potentially incriminating questions. The best response is, “I prefer to only answer questions with an attorney present.” Remember, you may not be required to answer questions, but you are expected to be respectful and polite.
Refuse Field Sobriety Tests
Another way an officer assesses you and your behavior is by observing you. He or she may make note of bloodshot eyes, poor coordination, or the scent of alcohol. Again, you do not have to validate any of these statements. If you are asked to participate in a field sobriety test, kindly refuse. If the officer tells you at that point of refusal that if you do not perform the tests you will immediately be arrested and your car, impounded, you should ask to speak to an attorney immediately.
Washington's Implied Consent Law Compels You to Take the Breath Test
When driving in Washington, the Implied Consent Law states you agree to a breath test by virtue of being a licensed driver in the state. You absolutely can refuse the breath test, but be aware, the consequences are powerful.
If you refuse the breath test, Washington Law provides:
- Your driver's license can be suspended for a minimum of up to one year or more if this is not your first DUI conviction.
- If you are charged, your refusal to be tested may be entered as evidence of “consciousness of guilt.” If convicted, the refusal can cause more problems during your sentencing, compelling a higher mandatory minimum sentence.
- The Department of Licensing will revoke your license for one year if you refuse the breath test.
- Ignition Interlock Devices will be required when you eventually begin to drive again. And you will be classified as a high-risk driver, being forced to pay higher insurance rates.
If you were involved in a traffic stop, refused the breath test, and are now facing the consequences of the Implied Consent Law, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney right away. You need an experienced DUI attorney to help you preserve your rights and fight your charges. Call Steve Karimi to determine your best course of action. Your future depends on it. Call today.