What to Do If You Get Stopped for a Dui or Dwi


Being human, we are bound to make mistakes in our lives, some more costly than others, but it happens at some point for all of us. Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle is a big responsibility when sober, however, it becomes a crime when you have had too many to drink. While it is never encouraged to drink and drive, the legal limit is in place so that adults can enjoy themselves a responsible amount and still drive home. 

What Happens When You Get Pulled over for a Dui?

There are serious punishments in place for violators of this law and the potential consequences could be deadly. Drinking and driving is no lighthearted matter, and the state of Arizona takes it incredibly seriously. If you do happen to make that mistake of drinking and driving, we want to provide you with some information to help you minimize the potential outcomes of your mistake. 

Here are some important tips to keep in mind for what to do if pulled over for a DUI, and how to deal with the consequences of your actions. 

Keep This in Mind Before Drinking

  • Know your limit

While estimating your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is difficult to do; keeping track of how many drinks you’ve had over a certain time is very helpful. Everyone processes alcohol differently and is not affected in the same ways. 

There are several factors that can influence the number of drinks per hour you can consume (in theory) and still be legally able to drive. Weight, metabolism, stomach contents, length of time drinking, etc.

  • DUI vs. DWI

Both are criminal charges but have some differences.

1. DUI is short for “driving under the influence,” and this can include alcohol or drugs.

2. DWI is short for “driving while impaired,” and this only pertains to alcohol.

  • Arizona Is a Zero-Tolerance State

This means that depending on various factors, you can be arrested and charged with a DUI, even if your BAC is below the legal limit of .08. 

  • Consequences of a DUI Charge

Before you even put yourself into a position where a mistake can happen, it’s important to understand the legal, financial, and restrictive penalties that come with a DUI charge. Worst case situation carries the following penalties:

1. 180 days in jail; home detention eligible after a mandatory 36 days

2. Fines up to $5,000, plus jail/home detention and monitoring fees

3. Screening and counseling

4. License suspension up to one year

5. Interlock device for two years on a vehicle

6. Up to 30 months of community service

While these consequences are harsh, the situation can become even more severe if a property was damaged while driving or personal injury or death happened as a result. 

When Stopped by the Police, You Should:

  • Pull over safely

Police are trained to spot cues to detect drunk driving, so thinking that you can get away with it is a silly thought, to begin with. When the lights flash, the first thing you want to do is pull to the side of the road, safely and in a well-lit area. Police understand that your safety is important too, and they will follow you until you are able to pull the car over in a spot that you feel safe.

  • Be smart

Once you’ve stopped the car, put it in park and turn it off. Remove any hats, hoods, or sunglasses, and put your hands on the steering wheel of the car. It is extremely important not to make any suspicious movements or get out of your car for any reason. 

Following these simple steps can and will eliminate any potential problems that can arise when interacting with police officers. Follow all instructions from the police officer.

  • Be polite

If you know you’ve broken the law, it’s not the police officer’s fault, it’s your own. Misbehaving or disobeying will only make matters worse for yourself. The best thing you can do is be polite, listen, and follow directions.

  • Avoid incriminating yourself

Police officers are trained to use the anxiety, stress, and fear that individuals feel when pulled over against them. The only information that you have to give is your name, license, and registration. 

Knowing your legal rights ahead of time instead of trying to think in the moment, “what are your rights when you get pulled over?” can really help you out. You do not have to answer any further questions and invoke your 5th Amendment right to remain silent and say, “I’m sorry officer, but I’ve been advised not to answer any questions until I speak with my lawyer.” This is only suggested if you have been drinking and know you are over the legal limit. 

While this may cause the police officer to ask more questions, arrest you, and confiscate your license, these are far less serious than if you answer questions and incriminate yourself even worse. 

DO NOT LIE. It is better not to answer a question than it is to lie because if the officer finds out that you are not being truthful, that will definitely be used in the case against you. Don’t think that you’ll be able to lie when you get pulled over for a DUI and be let go; police officers are much smarter than that. 

drinking and driving

  • Field sobriety tests

At some point during the stop, if the officer has suspected you of being under the influence of alcohol, you may be asked to perform field sobriety tests. A common misconception is that these are mandatory. In fact, you have the right to refuse them and even a roadside breathalyzer test. There are several varying opinions regarding the choice to refuse the field tests. 

1. Refusal is attacked as an admission of guilt by the prosecutor, but refusal can buy you time and weaken the report against you.

2. Roadside breathalyzers are inaccurate and field sobriety tests are not a reliable indicator of intoxication, but you will be required to take a chemical test at the police station.

3. A strong defense attorney can build a case on the following:

1. Refusal prior to arrest is civil liberty being acted upon

2. If field sobriety tests are administered, it can be a good strategy to prove that they were administered improperly or that the evidence shows they are inaccurate  at determining legal intoxication

4. Upon refusal, you will most likely be arrested and taken to the police station.

  • Chemical Test

If you refuse the roadside tests, you are required to take a blood or breath test at the police station. If you refuse this, you could be charged with resisting arrest. If you get the choice, the breath test is suggested due to being less reliable and a better defense strategy.

  • After being released

If you are released, it is crucial to write down every detail that you can recall. Fresh memories are more accurate, so do this as soon as you are able to. 

Include details like:

1. Where you were coming from

2. How much and what did you drink

3. How long prior to driving was your last drink

4. Where you were pulled over

5. Police officer’s behavior, the reason for stopping, and instructions

6. What field sobriety tests were administered (if you participated)

7. Your responses to the instructions

8. When and if you were read your Miranda rights

9. When you took the chemical test and how long since your last drink

10. The clothing you were wearing

The more details you can recall and write down the better; even if you don’t think it’s relevant, it can, maybe, end up helping your case. 

  • Contact an attorney

Once you are able to, contact an experienced defense attorney. 

Now that you know what happens when you get pulled over for a DUI, you can be more prepared (hopefully, you won’t ever need this information) for if that mistake is ever made. The only way to ensure that you are never pulled over for a DUI is to not drink and drive, but if you make the mistake, the Sonoran Law Group is here to defend your rights and freedom with the best DUI defense strategy. 

With years of experience prosecuting and fighting DUI charges, our team at Sonoran Law Group is your best resource for minimizing the damages from your mistake. Contact us today or when you find yourself in a DUI charge situation.