When a police officer stops you because he or she suspects that you've been drinking, it's common to have several questions thrown your way. The officer will ask how much you've had to drink, where you were drinking, and all sorts of other questions. Your first instinct might be to answer these questions, given that a police officer is an authority figure and you were taught to respect people in such positions. However, you do not have to respond to the questioning. While you should always be polite, you have the right to refrain from answering. Here are some things to know.
Identify That You're Exercising Your Right
If you plan to give the police officer the silent treatment, don't just ignore what he or she says. Instead, inform the officer as early as possible during the suspected DUI stop that you wish to exercise your right to remain silent. This is your legal right, and if the officer attempts to coerce you, your attorney will have a good chance of having any charges that are laid dropped. Don't tell the officer that you're exercising this right in a confrontational manner. Being perfectly polite but firm is your best strategy.
Say That You Wish To Speak To Your Attorney
Once you identify that you wish to speak to your attorney, the police officer is supposed to respect that wish and stop questioning you. Failing to do so gives your attorney a strong case for dismissal of your charge. The police officer may attempt to convince you that you don't need an attorney, perhaps by saying if you're innocent, there's no need to hire one. Continue to repeat that you do not wish to answer questions and that you wish to speak to your attorney. Even if you don't specifically have an attorney, you can find and call an attorney who handles DUI cases.
Remember The Exchange
Try to remember how your interactions with the police officer change as the traffic stop progresses. Police officers are supposed to respect your desire to remain silent and your wish to speak to legal representation, but some will continue to question you or attempt to coerce you into answering a question or making a statement. The more that you remember about the encounter, the more that you can share with your attorney afterward — and this could help the DUI attorney to get the case dismissed.