Officer Friendly is back!

January 10, 2007 | Karin's Blog | 10 comments

Dear Officer Friendly,

What should I do if I get pulled over for being under the influence. Can they look in my car? Can they toss it? What rights do I have and how far can the cops push it?


Slightly Intoxicated

In most states, a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .080 is considered to be legally intoxicated. Obviously, if you have been drinking and cannot wait the necessary time to allow the alcohol in your system to dissipate, let someone else drive. It takes one hour for every ounce of alcohol consumed. One ounce of alcohol is considered to be a”Shot” (1 oz.) of 80-proof liquor, 12 oz. of beer, or 4 oz. of table wine. The average drinker’s elimination is 0.015% per hour.

If you are stopped, cooperate with the cops. No need to make a bad situation worse. There are things you could do to possibly avoid the detection of alcohol on your breath but I don’t want to teach anyone how to possibly get away with drinking and driving. The officer will have observed your driving and may have already made the assumption that you are under the influence. That being the case he will want to look at your eyes and smell your breath and both are legal requests

Next he will ask you to step from the vehicle and administer a field sobriety test (FST). If you are unable to complete or satisfactorily complete the test he will arrest you. He might give you a PAS or preliminary alcohol screening test. This is a hand held device that you will be asked to blow into and will read the BAC of your breath.

If you are arrested, there is a good chance that your car will be towed. If the vehicle is towed it maybe searched for inventory purposes. That is, to make sure an inventory of valuables is taken in case of theft at the tow yard. Yeah right, I just want to snoop around in your car but this is a legal justification. Also, your vehicle is subject to search upon arrest. The inside of your car was under your control, therefore, it may contain evidence of the crime, i.e. an open container or a joint. The other thing that will be searched is your person.

At the station/jail you will be asked to provide a chemical test: breath, blood or urine. In most states, acceptance of your drivers license comes with an “implied consent” that you will provide the chemical test or face a minimum one year suspended license. By the way, the average cost for a DUI where the defendant pleads guilty is in excess of $7000.

Have you ever driven after drinking, thinking you probably should have stayed parked at the curb?
How did that go for you?


  1. Tracey

    Here in Australia you no longer have to Blow into the tube of the PAS device. You only have to talk onto it – they usually ask you to count to 5.

    Also we have what are called RBT – Random Breath Tests – where a number of police set up an RBT area and pull over cars as they drive past. Most ofted the pull up 4 or five at a time and let the rest past then pull up the next lot. They have up to 5 cars and 10 officers at an RBT blitz.

  2. Lee

    To add to this. Always cooperate, including with the booking officers. Not only will your car get searched possibly, but your PERSON! You’ll get patted down, and have your purse gone through, now that gets interesting. You’ll have to sit in the jail for no less then six hours, up to 14 hours, depending on intoxication. The more cooperative a arrestee is, the sooner they’ll get out. Get mouthy, and demand to get released, and guess what 14 hours is a really long time to sit with a bunch of stinky, smelly, pucking obnixous drunks. While watching the officers fight with other bookings, as crazy people get crazier as they bet their heads against the door screaming bloody murder. You’ll get to see very violent people get booked in wearing paper clothing as they give everyone threatening glares. Gangsters are everywhere. So no matter if its on the streets or jail, always, always cooperate. Be polite, answer questions, do as your told as to the best of your ability and you’ll find it will work in your favor and hopefully a lesson will be learned.

  3. Karin

    so which test, urine, blood or blowing is the most accurate and how do you um, avoid taking them? Let’s say you refuse to blow or pee. Can the cops take you to a hospital and the big burly orderly hold you down while Nurse Rachett pokes a needle in you?

  4. Karin

    to all of you lovely nurses out there, I was not implying at all, that any of you were Nurse Rachett. 😉

  5. Carol Davis Luce

    Since I stink at math could you make that ounce thingy clearer. How many hours does it take for one’s system to dissipate a 4oz glass of wine. One hour? Or four hours?

  6. Officer Friendly

    Carol – Rule of thumb is one hour of no drinking for every ounce consumed. However, this will very based upon your individual weight. For example: a person weighing 100 lbs. who consumes 2 drinks in one hour will be at a .075 BAC. Another person weighing 140 lbs. and consuming 2 drinks in one hour will only be at a .054 BAC. So, if you go out to dinner and spend two hours in the restaurant, you should only have one glass of wine and drink it in the first hour.

    Karin – I believe the blood test will be the most accurate. Breath is most easily challenged because a machine is involved and they are known to malfunction. Time is the most important thing. The more time pasing before the test the lower the BAC.

  7. Lee

    Actually, Karin if a DUI refuses to do a breath, pee or blood. They can have blood forced when their booked in at the jail. But its not that often it’s done. I’ve sat on arrestees with ten other officers when blood is being taken by a big ugly blood tech. The tech’s aren’t nurses. That’s all they do all night run and take blood. It really is a very unpleasant thing to experience and ususally happened when I was trying to go to lunch. Forced blood can be contested in court, and won. But what will happen if they aren’t forced, and still refuse to give up some fluid of some sort. They will loose their license and all driving privileges immediately. They have to sign a form in booking with that information, so when they go to the DVM to try to get the license back, it will be refused. They are deemed quilty and have to go to court to do a song and dance to a judge who only wants to know why they didn’t give up something in the form of a test. Most judges won’t even hear it. Not to submit, you’re not doing yourself any favor.

  8. Karin

    So basicaly one must go along with the program, coz if you don’t, you’ll get double dinged. I suppose if one doesn’t drive under the influence to begin with, one has no worries.

  9. Officer Friendly

    As I stated, “implied consent” means you will give a test. Blood can be forced so long as it doesn’t “shock the conscience of the court”. Ten people on one person to draw blood may just do that. In a case where the driver believed to be under the influence caused property or bodily damage to another, blood will always be taken whether they like it or not. A first time suspension for a refusal is usually one year.

  10. Carol Davis Luce

    Got it now. Thanx. I guess there’s some benefit in carrying more weight if you like to drink. I do love my red wine. 🙂

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