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What should I say if I'm stopped for drunk driving?

You always thought drunk driving charges happened to other people, but now you're the one sitting in your car while the blue lights flash behind you. When the officer approaches the window, he or she may ask you a number of questions. Are you sure you know how to respond?

Generally speaking, it is wise to say as little as you can. This does not mean that you should refuse to cooperate with the police, but you should understand that you do have the right to remain silent, beyond giving the officer your name. If the officer continues to ask you questions or tells you that you must answer, you can ask to speak with an attorney. While you do not have to say anything specific, you should be cooperative and remain calm. Remember, the police have stopped you ostensibly because they suspect you are committing a crime, and collecting evidence to support this is part of their job.

Interacting with police is often very stressful, so remaining silent and calm is often the best way to maintain control of yourself during the traffic stop. If an officer asks you to give him or her permission to search your vehicle or asks how much you've had to drink, you may remain silent.

It is also very important to understand that anything you say immediately becomes evidence, and in some cases, can even lead to separate charges. If you lie to an officer hoping to avoid a ticket, a court may use this against you and hand you obstruction of justice charges later on. When in doubt, it is best to either remain silent or request an attorney.

If you do face drunk driving charges, you should consult with an attorney as soon as you can. Proper legal guidance helps ensure that you do not suffer unfair consequences, and shelters your rights in the meantime.

Source: FindLaw, "DUI Traffic Stop FAQs," accessed Sep. 22, 2017

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