Driving under the influence (DUI) is illegal and a serious crime in Virginia, but it is different from driving after having a sip of alcohol. It is when you have consumed enough alcohol to impair your ability to operate or be in control of a vehicle. In Virginia, the level of impairment does not need to go beyond the legal limit, but a DUI arrest should be reasonable.
If an officer pulls you over after you have had a drink, you may think it is an automatic DUI conviction. However, that is not necessarily true, which is why you should know what to do in the event it does happen to you.
Pull over immediately and safely
The first thing you should do is pull over immediately but without violating any traffic laws and regulations. Do not attempt to outrun the officer. Also, remember that the officer may be observing every move you make, so avoid making sudden movements.
Always be polite to the officer and listen to instructions
The officer will ask for your license and registration, which is routine. You should provide this to the officer while keeping your hands where the officer can see them. Always respond to the officer politely so you avoid making a bad situation worse.
Remain silent whenever possible
The officer may ask you questions, and because you should never lie to them, you can exercise your right to remain silent. You should not volunteer information that could potentially incriminate you even if you believe you know the correct answer. The officer may be asking questions to catch you in a lie or to look for inconsistencies in your story. Therefore, you should inform the officer that you wish to invoke the fifth by remaining silent.
Know your right against unreasonable searches and seizures
An officer can only seize your car for a reasonable amount of time, so you may want to time the entire traffic stop. It is also illegal for an officer to search your vehicle unless they have your permission or probable cause. You have a right to refuse a search, and you can also ask why the officer pulled you over in the first place. An officer can stop you for minor traffic violations, but they cannot pull your vehicle over because they saw you leaving a drinking establishment.
If the traffic stop leads to an arrest, at least you know you did everything right, and you will be in a better position to defend yourself against the DUI charges. You can also identify if the officer violated their constitutional limitations.