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Invoking your right to remain silent at a traffic stop

On Behalf of | Oct 17, 2023 | Drunk Driving |

The holidays are fast approaching, and with them come parties and festivities. As a result, law enforcement officers will be more proactive in catching and arresting DUI offenders. If an officer pulls you over because they suspect you have been drinking, you must provide your license, registration and proof of insurance. However, they will still need evidence to arrest you for driving under the influence.

To obtain proof, an officer may ask you questions. Fortunately, you can and should invoke your right to remain silent and politely refuse to answer.

Questions you should refuse to answer at a traffic stop

Police officers have adequate training in conducting traffic stops, so their questions may appear reasonable and friendly. You may not even see any harm in providing a response. However, the chances are they are only trying to catch you in a lie or find inconsistencies in your narrative. Therefore, you should avoid answering incriminating questions, such as the following:

  • “Do you know why I pulled you over?”
  • “Have you had anything to drink tonight?”
  • “Where did you come from?”
  • “How many drinks have you had?”
  • “Where are you going?”
  • “What is that smell?”
  • “Do you have any alcohol in the vehicle?”

It is illegal to lie to a law enforcement officer but it is perfectly legal to refuse to incriminate yourself.

What if the officer threatens to arrest you?

Tennessee treats DUI offenses seriously, but a prosecutor can move to drop charges if the evidence is insufficient. A DUI conviction is a crime, but an arrest is not. If an officer arrests you and brings you in for further questioning, you can continue to exercise your constitutional right to remain silent until your lawyer is there to protect you. Your lawyer may even challenge the arrest, especially if the officer violated your rights when trying to procure proof.