Most people are so certain that being confronted by a police officer investigating a possible DUI-DWI offense will not happen to them that they make little or no preparation for the possibility. Over one million people make that error each year, and not a single one thought it could happen to him or her either.
We recommend you have the following items with you at all times. These are the top 10 tips on how to be prepared if you get pulled over for DUI:
- The name and phone number for the top DUI-DWI attorney in your area. 1-888-839-4384 (24/7/365)
- The landline home phone number for a person who will be willing and able to bail you out of jail. Many jails only allow “collect” calls to be made, and cell phones can’t take collect calls. Don’t plan on using the stored numbers on your cell phone, because it will be confiscated by most jailers.
- The phone number of a person who can come remove your vehicle from the roadway, if it can be done quickly, in order to avoid towing and storage charges. Due to potential liability, most police departments will not leave the vehicle along the road or even in a parking lot.
- Clean your vehicle totally of any alcoholic beverage containers, including empties. Open container laws are written so broadly that you can be convicted of this offense even if the empty bottles or cans are weeks old and dry as a bone. Plus, when an officer sees these containers from peering through your vehicle’s windows with his or her flashlight, this leads the officer to believe consumption occurred recently. Also, do not leave anything in your vehicle that is of high value or is irreplaceable when you go out. Some tow companies are not known for strict screening of the employees who load up cars at 3:00 AM. Plus, if you are not overly concerned about losing something of value, you might just opt to take a cab home (a opposed to driving your car) and retrieve your car the next day.
- Take cash in the amount of $300 or more. This should be a sufficient amount to pay any required bonding fee for a drunken driving charge (typically, 10% to 15% of the total bond amount), if you need a commercial bonding company. If you have any prior criminal record or you are facing a felony charge, your bond amount may not be a fixed amount, nor be subject to being calculated from a printed “schedule.” You may be stuck in jail until a judge looks at your prior criminal and driving history and sets an appropriate bond.
- Take a credit card and a debit card. You may be forced to use one or the other (or both) to pay for bond fees or an independent test, if such a test is available. In some jurisdictions, you may be allowed to stop by an ATM machine to obtain needed cash for an independent test. Some jails will allow use of a debit card to let you bond out of jail, but not a credit card (due to higher bank fees on credit cards).
- Because police have an unbelievable amount of latitude about towing your vehicle, do NOT have even the slightest amount (this includes ashes in the ashtray) of contraband drugs or any other medications in your vehicle that: (a) are not prescribed to you; (b) are not in their individual, proper containers (original pill bottles from the pharmacy); and (c) be sure to remove all paraphernalia (pipes, wrapping papers, bongs, clips, etc.) associated with any bad habits that may cause the police to tear apart your vehicle while searching for the hidden drugs that they KNOW must be there. Police can and will conduct an “inventory” search of all parts of your vehicle if it is to be towed. Some officers will illegally search it even if towing is not going to happen. The most commonly used legal excuse claimed by police is that they are “looking for evidence of your present crime (DUI-DWI).”
- Keep in your possession the phone numbers of a co-worker who can cover for you with your employer if you do not get bonded out of jail in time for the next workday. Yes, you MAY be there for a couple of days.
- Get the red out. Take Visine® with you to use after being in smoky rooms and harsh lights. Red eyes can be a symptom of a long, difficult day (not a DUI-DWI), so don’t give this “symptom” to the police for them to use against you in court.
- Use chewing gum or mints, or even brush and floss your teeth before leaving your drinking location to drive home. The odor of alcohol will be less prevalent if you take steps to freshen your breath before getting in your vehicle. Plus, even though having an open container of liquor, beer or wine in your vehicle can lead to legal problems, keeping a travel-size bottle of Scope® or mint-flavored Listerine® in the glove box can be a good explanation for the smell of alcohol in your car or on your breath.