If you’re pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, you may think that cooperating with an officer will help your case. More often, your words will incriminate you. Law enforcement officers may use them against you in court, or they may add to your charges based on what you tell them. Yet, it is within your right to remain silent when dealing with an officer during a DWI stop.
Your protection against incrimination
The United States Constitution’s Fifth Amendment protects you from self-incrimination. This right stands even when an officer demands you speak. You may have to give certain information to them, such as your name. But you do not have to tell law enforcement officials details about your conduct, such as whether you drank or the number of drinks you consumed. And you may avoid escalation by declaring your intent to remain silent. The Fifth Amendment also protects you if an officer does not give you a Miranda warning, which grants this right. If they fail to do so, any evidence they gather against you is unusable in a court of law.
When an officer violates your rights
A DWI is a serious offense, but that doesn’t mean an officer can violate your rights while arresting you. An officer may force you to talk during the process or threaten you for not speaking. In these cases, make sure to record their patrol car number and the name on their badge. You can also challenge the officer’s conduct in court or file a complaint against them through their department’s internal affairs division. Working with a criminal defense attorney can help you determine the best road forward.