What Not to Say During a DUI Stop

As Orange County DUI defense attorneys, we have represented hundreds, if not thousands of DUI defendants over the years, and we can say that most of them were nervous during their DUI stop. We’ve heard clients say that they were scared, extremely nervous, and afraid of being arrested.

Some clients “rambled away,” while others were regretfully rude. Many of our clients who were polite to the police but had no idea what to say. Often, their confusion led to them saying the wrong things, even though they said them in the nicest way possible.

What should DUI suspects say?

One of the best things any DUI suspect can do when pulled over is to answer only identifying information requested by the officer and politely invoke the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

While an officer is required to read you your Miranda Rights when you have been arrested, anything you say prior to the arrest can be used to establish grounds for the arrest. For example, “I had five drinks at the bar, but I have a high tolerance to alcohol!” is not a good thing to say to the officer. When it doubt, remain silent and let your DUI defense attorney do the talking for you.

Everything You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You

Some people think they can talk their way out of a DUI. This is a risky and often unsuccessful approach for most drivers. Even if a drunk driver is supermodel material, the officer can find her flirtations insulting.

Maybe there is a valid reason why an officer suspects you of being under the influence or maybe you have no idea why they may have pulled you over. Either way, you should avoid saying anything that could be used to justify your arrest and charges.

Never say these things to a police officer:

  • You are “less drunk” than your drunk passengers
  • You were going to pull over and sleep off the alcohol
  • You were out drinking, but you didn't have too much
  • You mixed an energy drink with alcohol, so you’re sober
  • You drank coffee after drinking, so now you’re wide awake
  • You couldn’t afford to call Uber, Lyft, or a cab
  • You drank, but you’re only driving a few miles home
  • You’d have your teenager driver you home, but they don’t have a license yet
  • You didn’t know that drunk driving was illegal
  • You used medication before getting behind the wheel, and it made you drowsy
  • You have a clean record and never drank and drove before

When you’re stopped for DUI, assume that anything you say can and will be used against you and proceed with caution. When the officer asks you if you’ve been drinking, politely decline to answer their question.

So, in order to help you out here in case that day ever comes, we’re going to give you some advice on what not to say to the police during a DUI stop. The following advice is what we tell our friends, family and clients about handling themselves when an officer suspects that they’ve been driving under the influence.

1. Don’t say anything incriminating.
This only applies if you are not on probation and you are not under the age of 21. You see, you don’t want to give the cops any ammunition. If you tell them that you had two beers three hours ago, they can use that statement against you, trust us.

2. Instead, say something like this.
Instead of saying, “Well officer, I had a few drinks at dinner,” politely tell them that you don’t feel like saying anything. Instead you can say, “If you want to give me a ticket, please write it and let me go.” Next, the officer will forcefully ask you again if you’ve been drinking. Politely, say “Officer, respectfully, I don’t feel like answering any questions. If you want to write me a ticket, do it.”

3. Don’t take the sobriety tests.
After you’ve said that you don’t want to answer his questions, he may say that if you step outside the car and take these (field sobriety) tests and pass them, he’ll let you go. Don’t fall into this trap!

If you do, he’ll say that you were slurring your words, and that he smelled booze on your breath, and you had an unsteady gait. You’re almost guaranteed to fail these tests; even sober people can fail them. These tests are optional, so politely refuse to take them.

4. Say “no thanks” to the PAS test.
If the officer asks you to take a pre-arrest preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) breath test, you may politely refuse to take this roadside optional test, providing it’s before the arrest. After the arrest, you have to do an evidential test (blood or breath test).

5. If arrested, opt for the blood test.
If you are arrested and the officer gives you the option of breath or blood, say “blood,” even if you hate needles. At this point, the officer doesn’t know your BAC. The worst thing that he could do is say that you reek of alcohol and that you failed your field sobriety tests, but then if the blood comes back (in about 10 days) at just .05, it’ll work in your favor.

What about telling an officer you had nothing to drink even though you did? You may be asked to submit to a breath test, which could result in more consequences for lying to an officer. Can you explain that you only had one or two glasses of wine at dinner? Even if your BAC is below the legal limit, you can still be charged with DUI as long as the state can prove that your ability to drive safely was impaired.

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Orange County, the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. is here for you. Contact our team today to discuss your case!

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