Can Silence or Refusal in a DUI Case Be Used Against You?Ted Burgess
If you have been pulled over for suspicion of DUI, the absolute worst thing you can do is have a long, detailed conversation with the officer. One you’ve been pulled over, everything that the officer says to you has one goal: to build a case against you for a DUI. And although you do have the right to remain silent, there are certain laws that you have agreed to follow. These are implied consent laws that require you to submit to chemical testing if the officer feels it is warranted due to your physical ability to drive and/or any other suspicious behaviors that you exhibit during a stop.
Remaining silent may seem suspicious, but it is not grounds for a legal detention or chemical testing. The officer will try to get you into a conversation about what you were doing, where you are going, and anything else that they can to get you say. Don’t talk to them: You won’t be able to talk yourself out of a DUI, but you certainly can talk yourself into one.
The officer will couch everything that is voluntary as a question, like, “Can you turn off the engine please?” or “Would you mind if I had a look in your back seat?” Anything that is couched as a question is something you can legally refuse, and the officer cannot pursue it past asking the question again. The only things you should provide to an officer are your driver’s license, name and birth date, and your proof of insurance. Anything else can be answered with, “I would like to speak with a lawyer before answering any more questions.”
The officer may ask you to step out of the car for a field sobriety test. If you are over 21 years of age, you may refuse this test. It is a very subjective tool that is used to get enough information to warrant a trip back to the station to have a chemical blood test. Keep in mind that if you haven’t given the officer any reason to believe you have been drinking, there is little recourse for them but to let you go. An unwarranted DUI is very easy for a lawyer to defend in court, as anything that happens after the unwarranted detention is not admissible in a court of law.
If you have been detained, you must, by law, submit to a chemical blood test. Refusal to do so will get you a mandatory license suspension even if you haven’t had a single drop to drink. In addition, the police are able to forcibly take a chemical specimen from you, so they are going to get their evidence in either case.
Remember, silence cannot be used against you in a court of law. It is one of your fundamental constitutional rights. The only thing that you ever have to submit to is a chemical breath, blood, or urine test at the police station. You may refuse any roadside sobriety test without the fear of legal repercussions.
By Ted Burgess