The first, and most important, thing you can do if you are being arrested or have been arrested for a DWI is to contact an attorney who has a great deal of experience in defending drivers against DWI charges. Your attorney will review the steps the officers took in detaining, testing and arresting you to see if your rights were violated, in which case, the evidence collected may be inadmissible.
During the process of being arrested, though, there are very important reminders to keep in mind:
- Remain silent: If you are arrested and taken in a police car to the jail, do not engage in any kind of conversation with the officers. The officers may try to appear friendly and sympathetic to you; however, the officers are at all times attempting to gather evidence with which they can testify against you at your hearing. They do not do this to be mean; it is their job. You do not have to say anything that might be considered incriminating.
- Remain cooperative and polite: The process of being arrested can be a humiliating experience. You are required to turn in your personal belongings; you may be placed in a “holding cell” with several other individuals. You will be fingerprinted and your photo will be taken. You are not at all in control, and that can be very difficult. It is critical during this period of time that you remain cooperative and polite, but stay silent about your case, the circumstances of your arrest, and your activities of the time before your arrest.
Remember that even if you are not speaking directly with police, but are discussing the arrest with a cellmate, your spouse or on the telephone to someone, anything that is overheard may be admitted as evidence against you. However, once you have been read your Miranda rights, your silence cannot be used against you. The only person with whom you should be having a conversation about your circumstances is your attorney.
Additionally, it is important – and difficult – to keep your wits about you during the time that you are in jail. Remember that being arrested simply means that the officers (who are just people following a set of guidelines) believed they had enough reasonable suspicion to detain you. You still are presumed innocent, have a right to defend yourself at a trial, and may still be completely cleared of any wrongdoing. Your behavior and actions during the booking and arrest will have weight in the trial.
This post contains excerpts from The DWI Book, the definitive guide to protecting your rights in the face of New Hampshire's tough DWI/DUI laws.