Whether you’ve been through it before or not, it can be terrifying when a police vehicle turns on its flashers and siren to order you to pull over. You comply and watch as the officer steps out of their vehicle and walks toward your door.
What happens in the next few minutes could mean the difference between sleeping in your own bed that night or spending it in jail on a DWI charge. What should you do?
Your words can betray you
The officer will likely start by questioning you to try to start gathering evidence that you have been driving while intoxicated. Remember, they can use anything you say as a potential reason to arrest you. Trying to talk your way out of the situation can be tempting, especially if you feel nervous about being pulled over and afraid of going to jail. But try to resist that temptation if you believe there is a good chance of an arrest. You might accidentally say something you did not mean to and help the officer claim they had probable cause to arrest you.
Instead, when the officer starts asking you questions about where you are coming from and if you have been drinking, ask them to speak to your defense attorney first. That is your right under the Sixth Amendment right to an attorney and the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Be polite but firm. You also have the right to decline to undergo field sobriety tests like the walk-and-turn test or one-leg stand, though you are legally required to submit to a breath or blood test under Missouri law.
A defense lawyer can help you work out what to say
Declining to answer questions might not stop the officer from arresting you. But at least you did not make their job easier by saying the wrong thing because you had not gotten the chance to speak to an attorney.