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What not to say during a DWI traffic stop

After leaving a Cardinals game or dining out with friends, seeing those red and blue lights behind you could strike fear in your heart. You know you have been drinking, but have you hit 0.08%? Are you about to receive a driving while intoxicated charge?

Too many drivers in Missouri incriminate themselves by saying the wrong things to police officers during DWI traffic stops. Avoiding a DWI may be possible if you keep your cool and remember a few things not to say.

“I haven’t been drinking”

Do not assume the reason the officer pulled you over was for DWI. In the U.S., police need probable cause to conduct traffic stops. The officer must first pull you over for something besides “drunk driving”, such as a broken taillight or speeding. Stay in your vehicle and do not guess at why the officer pulled you over. Do not start the conversation with anything about alcohol, even if it is to say you have not been drinking. Instead, wait for the officer to tell you why he or she stopped you.

“I only had one drink”

Many drivers believe that being honest about how much they had to drink is the key to avoiding a DWI. Admitting to the officer that you have been drinking at all, however, could prove that you are in fact drinking and driving. This could lead to a breath or field sobriety test. Do not tell the officer that you have had anything to drink. Do not lie, but simply decline to answer the question.

“I’m already on probation”

This may seem obvious, but do not offer any information the officer did not ask for, especially if it is about your criminal history. Doing so will not inspire the officer to go easy on you. It will likely have the opposite effect. You have the right not to answer any police questions until you have an attorney present. Politely decline to answer questions if you are afraid of incriminating yourself. Then, call a DWI attorney as soon as possible.

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Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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