Self-Incrimination at a DC DUI Stop

If a person is pulled over by an officer and believes they may be suspected of driving under the influence, a person should know that they have no obligation to answer any of the officer’s questions and that anything they say at a DC DUI stop can be self-incriminating. Interactions with police can be stressful and confusing, so contact an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible to avoid self-incrimination.

Answering Questions

Police officers will very often ask a person if they have been drinking and how many drinks they had. Even if a person says, “I only had one drink” or “I only had three drinks,” that answer could be incriminating.

One of the most self-incriminating things someone can say at a DC DUI stop is that they had a couple of drinks. A “couple” is a word that many people think of as meaning two drinks, but when police officers and prosecutors hear “a couple of drinks,” in their mind that could mean five or six.

Field Sobriety Tests

A person suspected of driving under the influence can be asked to step out of the car, and they should follow those instructions without arguing with the officer. However, they do not have an obligation to submit to any field sobriety testing. The results of those field sobriety tests, such as the horizontal gaze, nystagmus eye test, walk and turn test, and the one-leg stand test, are usable as evidence against the person.

Many people can fail these tests even if they have had very little to drink. If a person refuses to submit to those tests, the person may still end up getting arrested. However, they do not create self-incriminating evidence on the scene of the DC DUI stop, because the police would not be able to rely on the results of field sobriety testing to obtain a conviction in at trial.

Being Pulled Over

When a person is pulled over while driving, the first thing they should do is pull the car to the side of the road at the soonest and most convenient, safe location that they can, in the most controlled manner possible. Once they pull the car over to the side of the road, a person should keep their hands on the wheel until they are given instructions by the police officer. The police officer will most likely ask them to put their window down and provide their license, registration, and vehicle insurance.

Every driver should have all this information in a conveniently accessible location so that the police officer does not see the driver fumble for the documents. Having them in a convenient location can minimize the amount of time a person spends looking for them and decrease the chances of a police officer thinking that a person is intoxicated because they are not able to find their documents.

A person should minimize what they say to police officers and limit their statements only to answering the officer’s questions. A person is under no obligation to answer any questions, so minimizing what a person says is the first and best way to prevent oneself from unknowingly participating in self-incrimination during a DC DUI stop.

Refusing a Breath Test

If a person is asked to submit to a breath test and wants to refuse to submit to the breath test, there is a form that the person would sign with the question of whether they want to submit to the breath test. A person can simply say to the officer, “No, I do not wish to submit to a breath test” or they can sign the document saying that they are refusing. A person does not need to provide an explanation to the officer or say anything to the officer besides, “I refuse to give a breath test.” There can, however, be consequences to refusing a breath test.

The best step you can take to avoid any self-incrimination at a DC DUI stop is contacting a defense attorney. They can help you understand your rights and options.