Exercising Your Rights When Your Vehicle is Pulled Over By the Police

It is critical to understand that you have legal rights and that you should exercise them if you are stopped by law enforcement. This is particularly true when a police officer stops you under suspicion that you are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. During a DUI stop, or at a sobriety checkpoint, what you say and do can have a significant effect on your potential criminal case, should you be arrested and then charged with a crime.

Because what you say can affect the outcome of your case, you need to be careful. You need to be polite and respectful, as well. A criminal DUI defense lawyer will tell you to only speak when spoken to and to say as little as possible. To avoid saying the wrong thing and incriminating yourself, it is best not to talk.

So, if you get pulled over by a highway patrol officer who suspects you are driving under the influence, you need to be aware that you are now being investigated for a crime. If the officer notifies you that you were pulled over under suspicion that you might be driving while under the influence, you need to exercise your rights. That means giving only short answers to questions, refusing to consent to a search, and remaining silent the rest of the time.

Here are some reasons why it is wise to follow this advice:

Making Incriminating Statements  

The Fifth Amendment provides you the constitutional right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. When you talk, you risk saying things that can be used against you to make an arrest, and possibly to convict you of a crime. Even if you don’t think what you are saying incriminates you, it may connect you to a crime, reveal that you have knowledge of a crime, or be misinterpreted in a way that does so. Law enforcement officers may misunderstand what you are saying, and that can arouse suspicion. Some people may feel the need to lie or omit vital information when they talk to a police officer. If you are caught lying, it can affect your credibility. Then, prosecutors, judges, and jury members may not believe you are being truthful with them. 

Trying to Talk Yourself Out of an Arrest 

Unfortunately, you cannot talk your way out of an arrest. If an officer has probable cause that you are driving under the influence, they will arrest you. Talking may merely strengthen their case, and potentially enhance the case for the prosecution trying to convict you. 

Making Statements About Your Guilt or innocence

Refrain from making statements to a police officer even if you believe you were caught red-handed, as there may be extenuating facts and circumstances that your attorney can point out, making you innocent. Or, in some cases, an attorney can demonstrate that a law enforcement officer did not follow protocol when stopping you. Law enforcement errors can be used to challenge evidence or have it thrown out. If you have discussed your guilt to the officer, these arguments will probably not work. Furthermore, even if you are innocent, a police officer may misinterpret your statements and use them against you.

Remember, you should exercise your rights! Provide the officer with your information and ask if you are free to go. If you are not, you are under investigation, so exercise your right to remain silent and ask for a lawyer.