If a police officer has any reason to believe you’re driving under the influence of alcohol, it’s almost guaranteed that they’ll pull you to the side of the road to investigate.

Should this happen, it’s critical that you know what you should and shouldn’t do. It’s the steps you take during your traffic stop that impact what happens next and in the future, such as if you’re put under arrest.

Here are some basic guidelines to follow:

  • Stay in your vehicle: Once you move to the side of the road and put your vehicle in park, stay where you are. Getting out is a mistake that not only complicates the situation, but also puts your safety at risk.
  • Cooperate: When the officer arrives at your window, cooperate by providing them with the requested information. One of the first things they’ll do is ask to see your license, proof of insurance and registration.
  • Don’t start talking: Many people make the mistake of beginning to protest before the officer ever tells them what they did wrong. This makes it obvious that you believe you violated the law. Remain quiet, wait for the officer to speak and then strongly consider every word you say.
  • Don’t admit to anything: The officer is likely to do their best to get you to admit that you’re under the influence of alcohol. Regardless of if you were drinking or not, don’t admit to anything. Everything you say can be used against you if you’re arrested.
  • Don’t resist arrest: Resisting doesn’t do you any good, but it can lead to additional criminal charges. If the officer informs you that you’re under arrest, it’s best to cooperate.

During your traffic stop, the officer may request that you take a breath test. In New York, refusal to take such a test automatically results in a one-year suspension of your driving license and a $500 fine.

Although a DWI arrest is scary and potentially life-altering, it doesn’t have to be nearly as bad as it sounds. With the right defense strategy, you can protect your legal rights with the hope of avoiding a conviction and the penalties associated with it.