We started a blog sequence discussing how to interact with the police during a DUI traffic stop. First, we discussed the difference between an innocent conversation and when you are being questioned.
Now we want to discuss what you should do if the officer does start to question you.
It's 2 o'clock in the morning on a Saturday night and you're playing with the radio as you're driving. Briefly distracted, you accidentally drift between lanes a couple of times. A police officer sees you and proceeds to pull you over for suspected DUI. He or she approaches you in the car and, of course, asks if you know why you were stopped. Let's pause there for a second. Why are they asking you that? Will it make a difference in how they decide to proceed? Will they automatically let you go with a warning if you're unaware that you may have broken some law? Doesn't the officer know exactly why they've decided to stop you? So why do they ask? They're hoping that you say something that they may be able to use against you later. Whether or not you know the reason you've been stopped, the officer is going to tell you anyway.
Next, the officer asks you for your license and registration. You, of course, politely hand them over and now the officer wants to know where you're coming from and where you're headed. Why? Is the officer going to give you a police escort or tell you about some sort of shortcut? Is the officer just curious about what you've got going on at 2 o'clock in the morning? No. Remember, at this point the officer is questioning you, not simply making small talk. Let's imagine that you tell the officer you're going home after having left a friend's party. One of the officer's follow up questions will likely be, "Where is home?" Remember the officer is holding your license at this point, so if they just wanted to know your address, they could simply look at your license, right? The officer is giving you another opportunity to put your foot in your mouth. What if you say you're headed home but you're not traveling in the direction of your home? What if you tell him the wrong address at first, not because you're drunk necessarily but maybe because you're tired or nervous? Both are likely to negatively affect the way things proceed from this point and both would likely end up in the officer's report which could be used against you in a legal proceeding.
Now the officer asks the big question, "Have you been drinking tonight?" How can you possibly give a good answer to that question? Most of the time if you say "Yes I've had two beers," the officer thinks you've probably had more or if you say "No," the officer assumes you're lying. Neither answer really helps your situation so consider not providing one.
No Conversation in a DUI Stop Is Innocent
You need to know this is not innocent conversation and you need to respond in an appropriate manner. If you have any other questions about how you should act when being questioned, give us a call. Stay tuned for our next blog that goes into exactly how you should respond to questions like these and what you should expect.