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Should you answer this question during a DWI stop?

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2022 | Dwi, DWI

Life has a funny way of destroying anyone’s well-intentioned plans. Even if you have a firm commitment never to drinking and driving, you may eventually find yourself sitting beside the road during a DWI stop. While these stops can be extremely stressful, how you conduct yourself is likely to make a considerable difference.

Patrol officers employ a variety of tactics to catch those they suspect may be driving while impaired. One of these is encouraging drivers to incriminate themselves. Therefore, you may want to think twice before answering what is likely to be one of the officer’s first questions: Have you had anything to drink?

Probable cause and self-incrimination

While officers only need reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle, they must have probable cause to arrest you. Probable cause may come from a failed field-sobriety or breath test. On the other hand, your incriminating statements may also give officers probable cause to arrest you.

When an officer asks about what you have had to drink, it may be tempting to lie. Lying, though, can be problematic. Still, you have no legal obligation to answer the question. Staying silent may keep the officer from developing legally required probable cause.

Your ability to resist

It can be awkward not to answer an officer’s questions. After all, the officer may become impatient or even downright angry with you. Nevertheless, if you can muster the emotional fortitude to resist answering, you may avoid DWI charges altogether.

The right to remain silent is one of the more important ones in the Bill of Rights. Ultimately, by exercising this right, you force the officer to gather other evidence to use against you.