Thursday, March 17, 2011

DUI - How to handle a DUI stop “Have you been drinking tonight?” question.

One frequent question I get (especially if I am having a drink with someone) is: “If I get pulled over and the cop asks me if I’ve been drinking, what should I tell the cop?”

The answer is, “It depends.”  Which is annoying, because all the person usually wants is some sort of magic phrase that will get them out of trouble. Or maybe they want my permission to lie to a police officer, which I don’t ever advise.  The longer answer is as follows:

If you haven’t been drinking and don’t have any contraband in the car, feel free to just tell the police officer that you haven’t been drinking.

That being said, I have a lot of clients who would have been a lot better off if they had just remained silent.  You have the right to do that.  Remember Dragnet?  And basically every single cop/lawyer show since Dragnet?  “You have the right to remain silent” is the first, most important, and very frequently ignored portion of the Miranda warnings.

[If you feel bad about “hiding” information from the police, just remember – the right to remain silent is an essential part of your Constitutional Rights.  You are not a bad person for invoking your rights as an American.  Trust me.  I know a lot of bad people.  Invoking your rights doesn’t make you one of them.]

If a police officer asks you if you’ve been drinking, and you have, your answer should be something like this:  “I wish to remain silent.”

Or, if you think that makes you sound guilty, you could say, “I have an attorney.  His/Her name is _________.  If you have any questions, you can call him/her.”  Some of my clients believe that this answer makes them sound less “guilty” and more “paranoid.” 

You do not have to divulge the whole truth to the police officer.  You can remain silent.  Cops are not your friends.  They are not trying to help you.  Do not help them build a case against you.

The key to remaining silent is not to be silent at first, but then answer the police officer’s next question.  If at first, you say “I have an attorney.  His name is Greg Simms.  If you have any questions, you can call him.”  But then the police officer asks, “Where are you coming from tonight?”  You should not say “I’ve been at the nudie bar, slamming down shots.”  Instead, you should continue to state, “I have an attorney.  His name is Greg Simms.  If you have any questions, you can call him.”

This might go without saying, but if you reek of booze and you breathe all over a police officer, they're probably going to get you out of the car for sobriety tests.  Thus, in the ideal situation, you would have one of my business cards with the aforementioned phrase written on the back.  That way, you don't have to talk to the cop at all - you can just hand the officer the card.

On a side, but related note, if you are stopped by a police officer in Kentucky, you are required to show proof of insurance, registration, and license.  If you don’t, you can be cited for not having any or all of the same. 

If you have a DUI charge in Louisville, Elizabethtown, Frankfort, Lexington, or the surrounding areas, and would like to talk to a Louisville, Ky. DUI lawyer, call Gruner & Simms, PLLC., at 502.618.4949.  One of our experienced DUI lawyers will be happy to sit down and talk to you about your case for free.

Results.  As fast as the law will allow.

Questions answered in this blog post:  Do I have to show police my license, insurance and registration; how do I find a good Louisville DUI lawyer; what am I supposed to say to an officer if I get stopped for DUI; Do you have to take a breathalyzer; do you have to take a DUI breath test; what are the rules on Kentucky DUI breath tests; how do I find a good Lexington DUI lawyer; do I have to answer a police officer's questions; do I have to take field sobriety tests in Kentucky; how do I find a good Elizabethtown DUI lawyer; if a cop asks if I have been drinking, what should I say; how to handle a DUI have you been drinking question; what is the right to remain silent?

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