In Las Vegas, if you’re arrested for DUI, you’re going to need legal help from an experienced Las Vegas DUI defense attorney. But merely being pulled over by a police officer doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be arrested.

Be careful when you’re driving, because if you make any driving mistakes while the police are watching, you could conceivably be accused of driving under the influence. Almost anyone who is charged with DUI – when there’s no accident – is charged because a police officer’s attention was drawn to the vehicle by an abnormal driving pattern. The police will normally stop you any time they observe a moving violation.

If you are stopped for a moving violation and the stop leads to a DUI arrest, the arresting officer’s impression of your driving pattern will go into the police report that the prosecutor receives. Weaving in and out of lanes, speeding, recklessness, and similar driving behavior can be considered evidence of intoxication, but a good DUI defense attorney knows that a bad “driving pattern” is by itself no evidence at all. Inexperienced and negligent driving are just as likely as intoxication to produce a dangerous driving pattern. Most traffic violations are committed by drivers who are sober. The statistics prove it. You may be guilty of distracted driving. You may just be a terrible driver. That doesn’t mean that you drink and drive, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you should be arrested and dragged before a judge.

If you deal properly with a police officer during a traffic stop, you can usually avoid an arrest. What should you do if you’re stopped by the police while driving in the Las Vegas area?

If a police officer signals you to stop, stop safely and immediately. Place your hands on top of the steering wheel. First of all, and most importantly, be cooperative. Never provoke or aggravate a police officer. If you complain or get sarcastic, you’ll risk getting arrested. Of course, if you are obviously drunk or stoned on drugs, you’ll be taken into custody, but even then, cooperate and do not resist arrest. Know precisely where your license, registration, and proof of insurance are located. Arresting officers often say that a DUI suspect “fumbled” for the license or registration, and then fumbling is offered as evidence of intoxication.

If you are asked any questions beyond the request to see your license and registration, politely explain to the police officer that you prefer not to answer any questions without an attorney present. You have the right to remain silent, and you should exercise that right, but do so as politely and pleasantly as possible.

While you don’t have to speak at all, it’s best to smile and politely say something like, “I choose to remain silent until an attorney is present.” However, you must take care not to act uncooperative, resistant, or aggressive. You do not want to be accused of resisting a peace officer or interfering with an officer’s performance of duties.

Nevada law regarding DUI testing is tougher than the law in some states. If you drive in Nevada, the law presumes that you have already granted “implied consent” to submit to a chemical test if an officer stops you and suspects that you are driving under the influence. Refusing to submit to a chemical test in Nevada is punishable by a minimum one-year driver’s license suspension.

Even without a DUI test, Nevada can convict you of DUI based on the arresting officer’s testimony and the presumption that your refusal to be tested indicates that you, yourself, believed at the time that you were guilty. Even if you weren’t actually driving, you can still be prosecuted for DUI in this state. If you fall asleep in your vehicle with keys in the ignition or the engine running, you can be arrested for DUI on that basis alone. In that circumstance, don’t hesitate to call an experienced Las Vegas DUI lawyer immediately.

People are stopped by the police every day in Las Vegas for a variety of reasons. You could have a busted brake light or an out-of-date license plate; you could fit the description of someone suspected of a crime; or a police officer could determine that you’re driving carelessly or recklessly. If you’re not intoxicated, you shouldn’t be suspected of DUI. However, if you are arrested for driving under the influence, legal help is available to you. If you’re charged with DUI in the Las Vegas area, contact an experienced Las Vegas DUI defense attorney as quickly as you can.

If successfully convicted of driving under the influence in Nevada, a person faces the risk of jail time, heavy fines, community service, probation, a requirement to install a Breath Interlock Device on any vehicle operated by the person, the requirement to submit to random alcohol testing, the loss or restriction of driving privileges, court mandated DUI classes, court mandated substance abuse counseling, and/or certain other consequences as a court may find appropriate. Circumstances which would lead to harsher penalties include causing injury or death to another person, excessive amounts of property damage, failure to stop at the scene and report the accident (hit and run), being involved in a DUI while unlicensed or on a suspended license, or being involved in a DUI as a minor below the legal drinking age. To say the least, the consequences of being caught driving under the influence are much heavier than the cost of a cab ride or the call to a friend for a ride home from a bar – unfortunately, if accusations of DUI have already been made, there is nothing that a suspect can do but deal with the consequences that may follow.

One of the most confusing times following an arrest for DUI will be the time immediately following the arrest, before the person has had the chance to speak to an attorney or contact anyone outside of the police for help. When this time comes, it is important for DUI suspects to exercise their right to remain silent by making it affirmatively known that the right is being exercised. Actually, it would be best to exercise this right as soon as possible, so as to ensure that the right against self incrimination remains protected during any subsequent police questioning.