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Traffic Stop: Must Drivers Answer All Questions?

Posted on in DUI Defense

IL defense lawyerImagine that you have been pulled over by a police officer for some relatively minor traffic violation. The officer approaches you in a friendly manner as if he is just making conversation. He asks about where you have been, where you are going, whether you have had any drinks today, and so on. He gets you to admit that you were at a bar and that, yes, you had a drink or two.

Did You Just Say Too Much?

Many people believe — incorrectly — that they are required to answer each and every question that a police officer asks. Their natural instinct is to be cooperative. They may even hope that the officer will let them off with just a warning because they were so polite.

But in fact, anything you say to the police officer becomes evidence that could be used against you later. The officer may now have cause to suspect you of drunk driving and ask you to step out of the car and perform field sobriety tests.

You should never lie to a police officer, of course. But you are not legally required to provide any information other than what is on your driver’s license and vehicle registration, like your name, address, age, and date of birth.

What should you say if a police officer asks you a question like “Have you been drinking tonight?” One option is to skirt the question by responding with something like, “I am just on my way home.” Or, if the officer persists, you might politely say “I prefer not to answer any questions without the advice of an attorney.”

You might wonder, “What about passengers in the car?” Passengers have the same right as drivers to remain silent. If it looks like the traffic stop could take a while and possibly even lead to an arrest, passengers should ask the officer if they are free to leave. If the officer says yes, you may choose to walk away immediately or you may continue to sit silently in the car (while waiting or a cab, for instance). If the driver is arrested, you may be allowed to drive the car home for them, but there is also a chance the car might be towed and impounded by the police, in which case the officer may ask you to leave the vehicle.

Talk to a DuPage County Drunk Driving Defense Attorney

If you are stopped by the police and charged with a serious traffic violation such as driving under the influence, do not wait to seek the advice of an attorney. An experienced Oak Brook Terrace DUI defense lawyer will thoroughly investigate your case and develop a legal strategy to get you the best possible outcome. Call McMahon Law Offices at 630-953-4400.

 

SOURCES:

https://cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/pdf_publications/dsd_a118.pdf

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