What Happens During a DUI Traffic Stop in Pennsylvania?

Millions of Americans are arrested for driving under the influence every year. Most stops commence with a flash of red and blue lights. The knock of a flashlight on the window introduces a series of tests that might include standing on one foot or walking along a straight line. If the arresting officer has reasonable suspicion and probable cause that you’ve been driving while impaired, they’ll begin the arrest process.

You may know these basics based on what you’ve seen on TV or what you’ve heard in stories from friends who have found themselves on the wrong side of the law. However, every case is unique, and there are often additional elements that you may not fully understand if you’ve never been pulled over on suspicion of DUI. We’ve broken down some of the more common features of DUI stops in Pennsylvania.

The Basic Elements of DUI Traffic Stop in Pennsylvania

It can be overwhelming to be pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, especially if you’re innocent. However, remember that you have legal rights during a DUI stop, and much of what the officer will ask is entirely voluntary. Understanding how a stop typically goes may ease your discomfort and prevent you from making an error that could jeopardize your future. The following are typical features that you can expect during a DUI stop.

Being Pulled Over

During a routine traffic stop in Pennsylvania, a driver will be pulled over for breaking a traffic law, driving recklessly, or causing an accident. In other cases, the police may pull a motorist over because of signs of impairment, such as swerving.

A police officer will signal for the driver to pull over and will approach the driver’s window. Generally speaking, a stop is legal so long as police have reasonable cause to believe the driver violated the law. If the officer signals you to pull over by turning on their lights, you must do so.

The Officer Approaches Your Vehicle and Questions You

As they approach your car, remain seated with your seatbelt fastened. It may also be in your best interest to stay courteous and civil throughout the entirety of the stop, and joking around is generally not recommended. The officer begins by asking for your license, registration, and proof of insurance.

Additionally, they may ask you if you had anything to drink that night. Many individuals make the mistake of responding to the officer to explain themselves or in the hopes of receiving lenience. If the authorities ever ask you whether you drank alcohol before getting behind the wheel, you’re not obliged to answer. You may say that you would like to speak with a lawyer before answering questions other than providing the officer with your name.

Stepping Outside Your Vehicle

You will be asked to step out of the vehicle if the officer isn’t satisfied with your answers, appearance, or overall behavior. Even if you tell the officer that you haven’t consumed alcohol recently, they may ask you to get out of your vehicle anyway if they still have reason to believe you’re inebriated.

Performing Roadside Tests

A law enforcement officer who suspects someone of drunk driving will often seek to confirm their suspicions using some roadside tests, including field sobriety tests or breathalyzer tests. The field sobriety tests you might encounter in Pennsylvania include the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, walk-and-turn test, and one-leg stand test. As you’re completing these, the officer will pay close attention to your performance with the idea of a pass or fail grade. Although the officer is not likely to mention it, these tests are also entirely voluntary.

Breathalyzer tests may also be used. If you consent, you will be asked to blow into a machine, which will analyze your breath to determine the presence of alcohol and will provide a reading known as the BAC percentage. If you refuse, you will likely be arrested, and the officer will administer the required breath or blood test at the station.

An Arrest May Be Made

If the police officer now has sufficient probable cause, the officer will arrest the driver for DUI. The driver’s car will be towed, inventoried, and impounded, and the driver will be taken to the local sheriff’s department to be processed. If you’re arrested for driving under the influence, follow directions and pay attention to what the officer says. Then, contact a Montgomery County DUI lawyer as soon as possible for help protecting your legal rights.

Contact an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer in Montgomery County

If you’ve been arrested for DUI, act quickly to contact an attorney following your arrest. The Pennsylvania DUI attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we’re dedicated to fighting for your rights and protecting your interests throughout the legal process. Our highly trusted and well-versed legal team understands the ins and outs of Montgomery County DUI defense law and will be with you every step of the way.

For more than 65 years, the attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford have been serving clients’ legal needs in Montgomery County, Bucks County, Lehigh County, Chester County, Delaware County, and throughout the surrounding areas. We’ve earned the trust and respect of clients facing a wide range of legal problems, including DUI defense law. Our attorneys are ready to protect you and guard your rights. Give us a call at (215) 822-7575 or complete our online contact form today.