We have all seen or heard the familiar phrase “you have the right to an attorney, you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law,” but have you ever wondered just what your “right to remain silent” really means? The law on this very important criminal right is confusing, and with all of the media attention it receives, it can be difficult to know what you can and cannot do if you are being investigated and arrested. This is especially true if you are pulled over and arrested for DUI, because the entire experience of being charged with DUI is traumatic enough to cause you to momentarily forget that you even have rights. But, if you are able to remain calm and keep your wits about you, valuable steps can be taken by understanding your right to remain silent during a DUI arrest.
It is not uncommon for the police to ask you what you have been doing and where you have been, when they pull you over for suspicion of DUI. In fact, it is likely you will be asked if you have been drinking. You should gauge your answers carefully, because what you say might impact your case later. If you have been pulled over and questioned about your drinking habits before taking the wheel, it is probable the officer is thinking of making a DUI arrest. In fact, the officer may have already decided to have arrest you, and he or she is now collected as much information as possible support that decision.
Here are some things you need to know about what to say, what not to say, and your right to remain silent during a traffic stop and DUI investigation:
• You Do Not Have A Right To An Attorney. For starters, you right to counsel or to be read your constitutional rights to not trigger until you have been formally arrested or taken in police custody (e.g. handcuffed).
• Say As Little As Possible. While the officer will not advise you that “anything you say can and will be used against you,” the fact remains: anything you say can and will be used against you. This includes any observations that the officer allegedly makes about your speech pattern, like slurred speech or misuse of words. The best approach is to say as little as possible.
• Do Not Say “I’m sorry.” Any other statement that could be taken as admission, including apologizing, can be used against you. If you say something that the officer interprets to mean you have been drinking before you were driving, those statements will become part of the officer’s probable cause for making the arrest. In short, apologizing will be used against you later, so avoid making an apology for any of your actions.
• Do Not Admit to Consuming Alcohol. If you admit to drinking, it will be used against you when your case goes to court.
The best approach to take is to remain polite and give short and concise answers to any questions. You can politely tell the officer you wish to remain silent and still provide general information, such as your name, and provide proof of insurance. We know that being arrested for DUI requires an aggressive defense, and part of that defense is to make sure the things you may have said at the arrest scene are not blown out of proportion. If you have been charged with DUI, or know someone who is facing these types of charges, call us today for help.
Contact our office for answers to your questions about DUI defense. Let an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West help you today. We offer initial consultations by phone, and we are just a call away.