Do I need to answer if an officer asks me if I\'ve been drinking?
Do I have to admit to drinking and driving when I am pulled over?
Honestly, there are many ways you can handle this situation, however each has their own consequences. If you have been pulled over, and an officer suspects you of drinking and driving, there is nothing stopping them from arresting you, especially if your BAC level is above .08%. Drinking and driving is against the law and has a lifetime of very costly consequences that follow you, and those you love. Depending upon the mood of the officer, how much you have had to drink, and whether you were obviously drunk or not will likely be the determinate factors in what the outcome is of your being pulled over. How you choose to respond to the officer questions when pulled over, will have a direct result on your future if in fact you are found to be drinking and driving.
Should I just remain silent?
Let's say you have been pulled over and the officer suspects you of drinking and driving. Your initial response may be to start trying to talk your way out of any perception you think the officer has, but you would be wrong. Remaining silent is going to be your best choice, especially because the officer only has their opinion to go on without any sobriety test yet. Until your BAC, or blood alcohol content, is officially determined while having .08% or more, you are not drunk. The less you say at this point the better. While having impaired judgment, you cannot be arrested for drunk driving, no matter how unwise your poor judgment is for driving after consuming any amount of alcohol. You would be wise to keep in mind that under the Constitution, you have the right to protect yourself against self-incrimination. Simply stated, you do not have to answer the police officer's question at all. Your response could be one of, "I would rather not say", followed by the request to speak to an attorney. It is important to note here, that depending on the State you are in you may be required to have been asked to take a field sobriety test before you are granted the right to an attorney. Some states require you to be arrested before you are allowed access to your attorney. Best to be personally aware of what your specific State has outlined in their DUI law guidelines. Your request to have your attorney can never be used against you, unlike what you may have seen on television shows. This request simply makes the officer aware that you know your rights, and an experienced DUI attorney will argue whether you had the right to an attorney at the time of questioning or not.
When should I be complient with the officer?
If you have been pulled over becaue an officer questions your sobriety, they are going to be looking for any signs of intoxication, including anything you may say in your small talk with them. The officer will have the right to ask for your basic information, license and registration, and you would be wise to comply as that is their right to ask and be given that information. However, remain silent during anything else they ask you to do, because you are not obligated to incriminate yourself with any other information or tasks. This will protect you from any use of admission of guilt or denial against you later on in this process. They can still arrest you, require a sobriety test to determine your BAC level, and your attorney will be more empowered to build a better defense if you do not say anything to the police that will assist them in charging you with a DUI.
What if I am just honest with the officer's questions?
When it is honest and true, you can tell the officer that you have had only one or two drinks as long as it has been an hour between each drink and you are letting them know when your first and last drink was. This honesty could go a long way in helping your case, as long as the above information rings true in your situation, and will not be considered an incriminating statement. This honesty would also aid in the odor of alcohol you may have on your breath or person, but be aware that it may also give the officer permission to request a field sobriety test and BAC test. This could give the officer all they need to assess your sobriety. They could believe that you haven't had more to drink and allow you to go on your way, given that the officer did not pull you over for any other reason.
The absolute worst thing you can do when you are pulled over for suspicion of DUI, is to lie. Lying will always get you into more trouble than if you were to tell the truth. Your character and integrity will be no more, your credibility will be gone, and all of this will hurt your case. The judge and jury will also be grately affected by your responses to the officer questions, and if you choose to lie they will see that as an admission worth a more severe judgment.
The best practice to keep, when pulled over and facing the officer's questions, is to remain silent. Especially if you believe you are over the BAC limit. And ALWAYS be respectful to law enforcement, as it empowers them to continue doing their job in protecting you and those around you.
Previous QuestionDo I have to submit to a breath test after DUI arrest?