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Do you have to admit to the police that you’ve been drinking?

On Behalf of | May 30, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

You’re minding your own business and heading home for the night when you see those red and blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror. 

You may not even have any idea what traffic law you violated, but it quickly becomes clear that the officer is “fishing” for more information – and they ask if you’ve been drinking. Whether you have or you haven’t, you need to know how to navigate this situation.

You can’t lie – but you’re under no obligation to admit the truth

It’s a quirk of the law, but you can’t deny that you’ve been drinking if you had a beer with dinner or a glass of wine at a friend’s before heading home. Lying to the police during an investigation is a criminal offense. However, you are guaranteed the right against self-incrimination – which means that you’re also under no obligation to answer the question that you’ve been asked. 

Generally speaking, most people are uncomfortable boldly refusing to answer (despite that right), especially since they know that the officer isn’t likely to be happy about the situation. With that in mind, you can try a couple of different tactics to redirect the situation. For example, you can say:

  • “I’m sorry officer, why did you pull me over, again?”
  • “I’d prefer to focus on the reason for the traffic stop, officer.”
  • “Do you need my license and registration, officer?”

If the officer repeats the question and refuses to change gears, however, your best option is to be direct. You can simply say something along the lines of, “I won’t discuss my activities without legal representation present.” It probably won’t help you avoid a ticket, but that approach can save you from handing the officer exactly what they need to arrest you for a DUI.

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