The police are required by law to perform a traffic stop on drivers who are suspected of drunk driving after having reasonable suspicion, such as swerving, violating a traffic law or engaging in reckless driving. During the traffic stop, the police will likely ask the driver to take a breath test or perform a field sobriety test – these are often standard protocols. However, before anything else, the police will talk to the driver.
The police will likely ask a few questions, simply starting with, “do you know why I pulled you over.” During this time, the driver may answer the officer’s question. However, what’s the right thing to say when talking to an officer during a traffic stop? Here’s what you should know:
It can be better to remain silent
You are required to provide proof of license and registration to the police during a traffic stop. However, you aren’t required by law to say anything to the officer. Under the Fifth Amendment, you can refuse to reply to any questions.
If anything, be cordial and respectful
Just because you don’t have to say anything, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say anything. It may still be in your best interest to answer questions in a simple, yet respectful manner when replying in a way that won’t incriminate you. That means stating “no” if an officer asks if you know why you were pulled over. You may also reply that you aren’t required to answer certain questions, such as “where have you been” or “where are you driving to?”
However, no matter what you say, you may consider adding a “sir” or “ma’am” at the end of your responses.
Know your legal rights
It’s important to understand your legal rights during a DUI traffic stop. For example, you may be asked to answer questions that aren’t legally required of you. Likewise, if asked to take a field sobriety test, you can refuse it without facing penalties.