We’ve all heard the famous lines: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be used against you in a court of law.” But when the police pull you over, and adrenaline is high, you might feel the temptation to make excuses or explain your situation to them. Before you do, however, it’s important to understand how what you say to the police can undermine or completely destroy your ability to present a defense to DUI charges in court.
What not to say
In general, you should not say anything that can be interpreted as an admission of guilt. Some of the worst things you can say to a police officer after they pull you over are:
- “I had a few drinks”
- “I was at the bar”
- “I shouldn’t be driving”
- “I’m less drunk than my passengers”
- “I don’t need an attorney”
Instead, it’s best to comply with the officer’s orders, provide any documentation that they request, and avoid saying anything more than necessary to invoke your rights.
What your right to remain silent means
You have two Constitutional rights that are very important in any interaction with the police – the right to remain silent, and the right to an attorney. However, the most important thing to keep in mind about these rights is that they do not kick in automatically. You must specifically invoke them in order for them to take effect.
If you simply remain silent while the police ask you questions, they do not have to stop questioning you. They also don’t have to stop questioning you if you say something vague or uncertain, like “I think I should talk to a lawyer,” or, “maybe I shouldn’t say anything.”
Instead, you must clearly state that you are invoking your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. If you do, the questioning must stop until your attorney arrives. Your attorney can then counsel you on how best to answer the police’s questions.
This is why, if a police officer stops you, you should simply provide the identifying information that they request and remain polite, but don’t say any more than that. Invoke your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney, and don’t speak until your attorney arrives. That way, you will stand the best chance of getting through your DUI charges favorably.