Be Careful When Talking to the Police if You Are Stopped on Suspicion of a DUI

Do I have to answer the officer’s questions if I have been pulled over?

Police officers have been highly trained to elicit useful information from DUI suspects.  Anyone who has been stopped by a police officer before or even watched a movie involving a DUI arrest will know to anticipate some basic question by the officer who stopped you.  Often, the questions asked will seem innocuous enough, and you may be tempted to thoroughly explain your behavior. After all, normally honesty is the best policy. However, when it comes to police questioning on the matter of a potential DUI, caution should be exercised.  Our Phoenix, Arizona DUI defense lawyers discuss some tips for answering police questioning below.

Common Police Questions When Stopped for a DUI

When an officer stops you, he or she has already formed some reason to suspect you of driving drunk.  Perhaps the officer noticed you swerve, or maybe you ran a stop sign. Regardless of the exact behavior observed, the officer who made the decision to stop you will now do all he or she can to gather evidence of your intoxication.  

The officer who stopped you will likely start off by asking for your license and registration.  You do need to provide this information. From there, the officer may ask some questions like:

  • Have you been drinking tonight?
  • Where are you coming from?
  • You smell like alcohol. Be honest with me, how much have you had to drink?
  • If you’ve only had one drink like you said, you wouldn’t mind taking a breathalyzer would you?

Questions like these are designed to gain evidence of your intoxication, which will surely be used against you later on. By admitting to drinking any alcohol whatsoever, you have given the officer ammunition to substantiate the fact that you were drinking before getting behind the wheel. 

Many people stopped on suspicion of a DUI feel that they need to answer any questions asked of them.  They do not realize that their constitutional rights protect them from being forced to answer incriminating questions. Per the Fifth Amendment, you have the right to remain silent.  If you have decided not to answer the officer’s questions, you will want to either simply remain silent or politely say a phrase like, “I’m not going to answer questions without my attorney present” or “I wish to remain silent.”  When in doubt, request to call your attorney before making any statements.

Posted in DUI