It was late and I was leaving a local bar after enjoying a football game with a few of my coworkers. I had a couple more beers than I intended, but not an amount I thought would have stopped me from driving home in a safe manner.

After saying goodbye to my friends I went to the bathroom, paid my tab, and got in my car. Everything seemed fine as I was leaving until I saw a police cruiser turn the corner I had just driven by. I didn’t think much of it.

Then the lights came on. The blue and whites flared bright, obscuring my vision as I looked in the rearview mirror expecting the cruiser to fly past me on the way to an emergency. I realized the police cruiser was following me.

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Thankfully I knew how to handle this kind of situation after a close friend and neighbor was charged with a DWI as well. He went to a great defense attorney at Dummit Fradin and was treated like he mattered, given information that helped him protect his rights and reputation, and he passed that knowledge onto me.

There, in that moment where the cruiser was following me, I knew what do.

I calmly pulled over to the side of the road and got out my “DWI kit”. It’s a small bag that contains things like chewing gum, peanut butter crackers, anything with a strong scent that can cover smells on my breath. I pulled out a piece of cinnamon chewing gum to help cover the beer smell. I didn’t use a breath-spray or anything like that, as those sometimes have alcohol in them. Some drivers like my neighbor carry cigarettes in their DWI kits, but I’m not a smoker so I settled on the cinnamon gum.

I also reached up and removed my license and registration from a clip I kept on the driver-side visor. This not only helped me be prepared to offer the police officer who stopped me my identification and registration when he asked for them, but it kept me from having to fish around my glove box looking for them. I knew the police were looking to establish “probable cause” and would be watching my every movement from the moment they stopped me in an attempt to prove that I was impaired. I knew I had to keep my movements to a minimum.

I also cracked my window as the officer approached. This way the smell of alcohol was lost in the other odors in the air and it became harder for him to detect anything on my breath that I didn’t want him to pick up on.

The officer asked me for my license and registration, which I gave him without making eye-contact or engaging in small talk and kept my focus on the road ahead. I also provided my Driver’s Rights Card, which states all of the rights I have that must be respected by the same laws this officer is required to uphold. I knew it was risky—in some cases providing a Driver’s Rights Card can give a police officer grounds to arrest me for Driving While Impaired, but I knew my rights and knew they deserved to be respected.

The officer was not happy. He asked where I had been that night, the people I was with, and of course if I had been drinking. I knew he was trying to listen to see if my speech slurred or if I was confused by his questions. I chose instead to stick to two-word answers: “Yes sir” and “No sir” and little more. Frustrated by my unwillingness to give him the reasons he needed to arrest me, he demanded that I get out of my car and perform a field sobriety test. He did this to prove that I’m impaired enough that I could not move in a proper manner.

As it said on my Driver’s Right Card, I didn’t have to perform these tests if I did not want to. Instead I calmly rolled down my window and placed both wrists in front of the officer and instructed him in a calm, assured manner:

“Officer, unless I’m under arrest I refuse to perform these tests. If you wish to handcuff me you may, but otherwise I request that you return my license and registration.”

I decided to do this for two reasons:

First, I wanted my rights respected. I knew I didn’t have to perform any test that would incriminate me. Second, I knew from my neighbor’s experience that if the officer put me in handcuffs he would also have to help me get out of my car. This would hinder him from providing positive proof that my movements were uncoordinated due to alcohol if he had to testify against me in court.

All of these things that I just told you about I learned from someone who had been in the exact same situation I found myself in, and the instance where you get pulled over for a DWI is a mistake anyone can make. In my neighbor’s case he was helped and educated by a great defense attorney at Dummit Fradin who was ready to fight for him and using the information he gained I was later able to fight for myself as well using the same wonderful defense attorneys Dummit Fradin provided the moment I got in contact with them about my case.

But what if I hadn’t?

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