This is Part 2 of our “What To Do During a DUI Stop” series. If you haven’t read Part 1 of this series, CLICK HERE.
“Please step out of the car, sir,” is a phrase that a driver should understand as “You are going to jail.” Any time an officer suspects that a driver may be impaired by alcohol, illegal drugs, legal drugs or anything else, once the officer asks a driver to step out of the car, the driver needs to be prepared to go to jail, and give that officer as little evidence as possible that the driver is impaired.
If the driver’s hand touches the car door, the officer will note in his report that the driver leaned on, or used the door of the car to assist him in standing up. This is supposed to be an indicator of impairment, although everyone on earth uses the door to help them exit a vehicle. Be polite and calm with the officer. Do NOT answer any of the officers questions about where you have been and what you have been up to. You do have to answer basic questions about your identity. The side of the road is not the ideal location to engage the officer in a discussion about your Constitutional rights, or whether your taxes pay a particular officer’s salary.
The officer will ask you, the driver, if you would like to perform some field sobriety exercises to dissuade him of the belief that you may be impaired. You should not perform the field sobriety exercises. There is no law that says you must perform the field sobriety exercises. They are completely voluntary and an officer cannot order you to perform the exercises. An officer can threaten to arrest you for DUI, but he would of arrested you anyway.
The field sobriety exercises that are standard in Florida are not designed for citizens to “pass.” The exercises require an individual to put their body into strange and contorted positions while listening to an officer give detailed and esoteric instructions that must be followed exactly in order to pass. Usually this is all done on the side of the road, surrounded by officers with traffic whizzing by and police lights strobing and flashlights being stuck in the driver’s face. Don’t perform the exercises. You will not pass them and the police report documenting your attempts to pass the exercises will make you look like Otis from Mayberry when it is completed. (In the future, I am going to do a mini-series that focuses on each of the standard exercises.)
Now sometimes all of this is on video. Remember that. Don’t do anything that can be misconstrued as you being impaired. Also, there is almost always audio recording as well, so do not start making a bunch of slurred statements about anything.
After refusing to participate in the farce that is the standard field sobriety exercises, you will likely be arrested. Don’t cry, don’t beg, and don’t say anything in the back of the patrol car. While riding to the jail you will be video and audio taped.
CLICK HERE for Part 3: Fun times at the jail with the Intoxylizer 8000.