Recently on our forum a user asked, “I was stopped for DUI last night after I had a few drinks at a bar close to my house. They asked me a lot of questions before and after I was arrested. I felt intimidated and probably said more than I should have said. I was wondering whether or not I am required to talk to the police before my DUI arrest?”
If you have been stopped and arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) you have every right to be concerned. Although thousands of drivers are arrested each year and many think this is not a serious charge, every state has passed severe penalties and high fines for DUI.
The good news is that drivers do not have to be intimidated by the police. In fact, whether or not you have been arrested for DUI, you do have rights. Understanding these rights, however, is critical to protecting yourself before and after a DUI arrest.
Rights before a DUI arrest
You asked what you should do if you are stopped but not arrested for DUI. First, it’s important to understand the police are not allowed to legally stop you unless there is probable cause (exceptions may exist for sobriety checkpoints but that’s another issue).
Unfortunately, however, the reasons you can be stopped do not have to be related to a DUI. For example, the police can stop you for a broken taillight. And if they stop you for any reason and gather evidence that you are intoxicated, then they can arrest you for DUI.
So what should you do if you have been stopped but not arrested for DUI?
- Determine what information you are required to provide to the police.
Although you do not have to answer questions related to whether or not you have been drinking, in some states you may be required to provide basic information to the police after a DUI stop. For example, in Ohio, under specific conditions, you are required to provide your name, address and date of birth to an officer if asked. Refusing to provide this information could result in a criminal charge.
- Do not argue, drive away, resist arrest or resist the arrest of another person.
Always be polite and courteous. We have all seen videos where a simple traffic stop ended up in a violent altercation because the driver overreacted to common requests made by the officer. This does not mean, however, that you have to do everything the officer requests. In fact, you may have the legal right to refuse to answer certain questions, refuse to take a field sobriety test, and refuse to submit to a chemical test.
- Do not talk without a lawyer present.
While we all know that having a lawyer present if you have been arrested for DUI is always a good idea, it may also be a good idea to ask to speak to your lawyer if the police want you to provide statements prior to a DUI arrest.
Unfortunately, before you are arrested and interrogated, the police are not legally required to give you information concerning your legal rights, which means they do not have to recite to you the Miranda Warning.
Specifically, they do not have to say, “you have the right to remain silent, what you say can and will be used against you in a court of law, you have the right to consult with a lawyer, you have the right to have a lawyer present during questioning, and if you cannot afford a lawyer one will be provided to you.”
If you have not been arrested for DUI, you have rights.
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