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DUI / What to do if you get pulled over


At Valdez Law we understand how a DUI affects our client’s lives. That is why we are dedicated to keeping our law practice small. We know that good legal representation means being available to talk to our clients when they need to talk.

Your phone call will always be answered by an attorney— not a receptionist. You may even text message your attorney directly.

Karlie Valdez is certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to conduct Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST). She knows exactly how law enforcement is supposed to instruct you on these “sobriety tests” and we will make sure this evidence is challenged in your case.

Most importantly, when you hire Valdez Law for legal representation on a DUI you can rest assured that you have an attorney who is going to work hard for the result you want and help you get your life back on track.

We will advise you on when to request a contested hearing with the Department of Licensing and explain the court process. The best way to find the right DUI lawyer is to meet the lawyer in person and ask questions about his or her experience.

What should I do if I am stopped for a DUI in Washington?

Be polite. Hand the officer your license and registration.

  1. “Have you been drinking?”

    Politely tell the officer “my lawyer advised me to not answer any questions.”

    Whatever you say, remember that it will be written word-for-word in the police report. So do not lie! Using your right to remain silent is always better than making up a story that is not true.

    If the officer says s/he smells alcohol coming from the vehicle (and you are the only person in the vehicle) just know one thing: YOU ARE ABOUT TO GET ARRESTED.  It is best to accept that simple truth, not do any roadside tests, and politely offer the officer your hands so that you can get the arrest process over with.

  2. “Step out of the car please. I’m going to have you do some field sobriety tests.”

    This is a lie. At this point the officer is gathering “probable cause” to arrest you.  Most sober people cannot pass these tests so don’t even bother doing them!

    Ask if you are being arrested.  DO NOT DO THE ROADSIDE TESTS (SFST’s). SFST’s include following an object with your eyes, the one leg stand, walking heel to toe, reciting the alphabet, etc.

    Most officers will make it seem like you must do these tests, but under Washington law you can simply say “no thank you.”  These roadside tests are usually video recorded.  Do you really want that video being played in front of a jury?

  3. The officer now wants me to do a breath test on the roadside.

    This is called the Portable Breath Test (PBT). Again, you are not required to give a breath sample in the device officer’s carry in their vehicles. The only purpose of this test is to help the officer decide whether or not to arrest you.  There is no reason to do this test when you have a right to NOT do it!

  4. The officer has arrested me and now I am being asked to take a breath test at the station.

    The officer has arrested you and now you are being transported to the police station.  A video camera is capturing everything you say and do while you are handcuffed in the back of the patrol car.  It is best to just sit there QUIETLY and follow instructions.

    Once you arrive at the station you will be escorted to an area where you will be asked to give a breath sample.  THIS IS THE ONLY TEST YOU SHOULD TAKE.

    Take the breath test at the station! In Washington, this device is called the Datamaster.  Washington is in the process of transitioning to a different breath test machine called the Draeger Alcotest 9510.  No machine is perfect.

    If you drive a vehicle in the state of Washington you have already consented to the breath test under the “Implied Consent Law.” This law basically states that you must take the breath test or you will lose your driver’s license for at least one year.  It also provides that if you take the test and blow over the legal limit you will lose your license.

    This law makes it seem like there is no hope for your license either way you decide— but remember this:

    If you take the breath test you increase the chances of your lawyer finding a way to get you a good outcome in both the DOL proceeding and the court proceedings.   If you refuse to take the breath test your license to drive will be revoked for one year or more!

    Remember: Do not answer any of the officer’s questions at the station.  You still have the right to remain silent!

  5. Should I talk to the public defender the officer provides when I get to the police station?

    Yes, talk to the lawyer provided at the police station! Even if the officer doesn’t offer to call an attorney—ask them to!  You have a right to talk to a lawyer at this point so always ask the officer to speak to an attorney. There is always an attorney on call who can give you advice that is in your best interest.

    Washington Criminal Rules require that, at the earliest opportunity once you’ve been placed in custody, you be provided access to a telephone, the telephone number of the public defender and any other means necessary to place you in communication with a lawyer.

    Even though it is in your best interest to hire a private lawyer after you are released you should speak to the lawyer who is “on call” at the time that you are arrested.

The information on this page is not intended to be legal advice and does not apply to states other than Washington.