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What To Do If You Get Pulled Over

Man being written a ticket by police officer

Indicate to LE Officers That You are Safe to Approach

Upon being pulled over, promptly turn off the engine, switch off the radio, and remove the keys from the ignition, placing them in a location easily visible to the officer. Roll down the windows and ensure all passengers place their empty hands in an area where they are also visible to the officer.

Demonstrating that you will comply with their commands sends a non-threatening message to the officer(s). It can significantly reduce the likelihood of an unpleasant encounter.

Show a Positive, Friendly Attitude

The field sobriety test is often a hot topic of discussion. Still, it’s important to note that your attitude towards law enforcement can determine whether you even reach that point. In other words, it’s crucial to always be courteous and respectful when interacting with law enforcement, even though it may be challenging, depending on the circumstances.

Indeed, many people may not desire to speak with police officers. Still, by being the one who remains polite and composed, you can set yourself apart. This distinction can make all the difference between being written up or being let go by the officer who pulled you over.

Here’s an example:

  • Officer: Do you know why I stopped you?
  • You: I’m sure you had a good reason. We appreciate that you are out here keeping us safe.

Remember that Law Enforcement is trained to trip you up, so make sure that you do not admit guilt but you remain friendly:

  • Officer: So, you admit I had good reason to stop you for swerving and speeding?
  • You: No, but again I’m sure you had a good reason, and I’m a big fan of the Sheriff’s Department out here, so please know that I appreciate your concern.

Hopefully, your kindness and willingness to comply will win the officer over. Just make sure that you remain careful with your words to avoid incriminating yourself in the process.

Do not make a statement to the police

Sometimes, we feel that if we make an excellent explanation to law enforcement that they will forgive us. Though this may be true in some cases, most often, it’s not the case. Usually, the interview that we give turns into evidence used against us.

You have NO obligation to make a statement. You may say the following things (remember the positive attitude as you verbalize this):

  • “I am sorry, but I am not making a statement,” or
  • “I am sorry, I cannot remember details at this time and need to take some time to process.”


  • “I have an attorney that I would like to present for questioning.”

Once you say these magic sentences, law enforcement should stop attempting to question you. They may still arrest you, BUT you have given them nothing to put in their file to help the case against you. We would always prefer defending clients that did not make any statements. It provides the prosecution with less evidence against you.

You are not obligated to undergo the field sobriety tests

Some people surmise that if they do a great job on a field sobriety test that they will be let go, and they will avoid a DUI. This may be true in some case, but it is extremely rare – just don’t go there!

We feel that if you have been pulled over, pulled out of the vehicle, and are asked to do a field sobriety test, such as touching your fingertip to your nose or standing on one leg for a specific period as the officer observes you, that a blood or breath test is not far behind. You are not legally required to take the field sobriety tests. Use your judgment, but there will be no other legal ramifications for refusing these tests.

This is just ANOTHER opportunity for law enforcement to include details in your case file that paint you negatively. Any misstep you make will support a DUI charge if it’s filed. You may say that you have injuries, physical limitations, etc., that will prevent you from taking a good test, OR you may say that you do not want to take a field sobriety test.

You will probably be offered a breathalyzer or blood test at that point, which you must submit to (or else lose your license). But you will have given the police and District Attorney less in your file to work with in their prosecution, and that’s a win!

You MUST submit to a breath or blood test or lose your license – Some people feel they will avoid the consequences of a DUI by refusing a blood or breath test. This MAY help in terms of prosecution by the court, but you can still be convicted of a DUI with other pieces of evidence, so it’s not a surefire tactic.

However, refusing a blood or breath or “chemical” test a surefire way to get your license suspended by the DMV for a year.

In California, submission to a breath or blood test IS required, or your license WILL be suspended for a year.

When you submit to a test, even if you are convicted of a DUI, we can usually negotiate a provisional license so that you may drive to work, school, classes, etc. By law, in California it is LEGAL for law enforcement to take your blood by force.

So, you can refuse, get your license suspended, and STILL be convicted of the DUI. There are ALMOST no circumstances where it’s a good idea to refuse a Blood Alcohol test.

Who to Call if You Are Pulled Over and Issued a Citation in California

If you have been cited for traffic and/or DUI violations in Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, or anywhere in Orange County or Southern California, immediately contact attorney Halley J. Peters at HJP Legal at (949) 519-4955.

Halley J. Peters at HJP Legal is a seasoned defense attorney dedicated to ensuring those detained or alleged to have violated the law receive the very best outcome legally and personally. She has over a decade of experience practicing and is licensed in both California and Florida.

An attorney specializing in California DUI defense can thoroughly review every section of the prosecution’s case against you, uncovering anomalies and deviations from standard procedures to ensure that only valid evidence is presented to the court. California DUI defense is only a phone call away, 24/7. Reach out to HJP Legal at (949) 519-4955.

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