If you have been stopped by a police officer in Texas and you are showing any indications of alcohol consumption, expect to be questioned by the officer. Bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, or an alcohol-like smell are all likely to prompt any officer to ask the same question: “How much have you had to drink tonight?”
When you hear this question, you likely have not been arrested yet. Nor has the officer read you your Miranda rights. As a result, you might wonder if you should answer the officer’s questions. The answer is, “It depends on the question being asked.”
Why Officers Talk with You During a DUI/DWI Stop
Unless you are under arrest and being interrogated, an officer does not need to read you your Miranda warnings before talking with you. Thus, officers who talk to you during the course of a traffic stop are within their rights to do so. But make no mistake: the answers you give to the officer can and will be used against you.
For example, suppose the officer asks you how much you have had to drink. If you respond with, “I’ve only had one drink,” the officer will record this in their report and use the answer to support their arrest of you. They will argue that your bloodshot eyes, your slurred speech, or your bad driving are all a result of this “one drink” to which you admitted.
Your Right to Remain Silent during a Traffic Investigation
Even though the officer may not advise you of it when they first stop you, you do have the right to remain silent during a traffic stop. If the officer asks for your driver’s license, insurance, or registration, you should provide these documents to the officer. Beyond this, you do not need to answer any questions the officer asks you.
Instead, you are free to tell the officer something to the effect of, “I am sorry but I do not wish to answer any questions.”
The Impact of Your Refusal to Answer Questions
You may be concerned about the ramifications of telling the officer you do not wish to answer any questions. While you cannot actively impede or obstruct the officer’s investigation, you do not have to aid them or make it easier for them to find evidence that incriminates you. All your refusal to answer questions about drinks consumed or other matters does is deprive the officer of one piece of evidence they could use to build probable cause against you.
What To Do Following a DUI or DWI Arrest
If you find yourself arrested and charged with DUI or DWI in San Antonio or elsewhere in Texas, do not delay. You need experienced help from a criminal defense lawyer to examine your arrest and charges and help you formulate an effective defense strategy.
Contact the Law Office of Kerrisa Chelkowski, and our knowledgeable DUI/DWI defense lawyer can help you fight back against your charges.