The right to remain silent is a constitutional right provided by the Fifth Amendment. This right prohibits officers from forcing someone to answer questions which might unfairly indicate guilt or admit to doing something illegal. You should cooperate in providing the officer with your basic information (license, registration, pedigree, etc.), but do not answer other questions and do not admit to anything. Be as brief with the officer as possible, and if you are uncomfortable answering anything, assert your Fifth Amendment right.

You can do this a variety of ways:

  • Remain silent – the officer will likely continue to ask you questions if you do this
  • Say “I understand you are doing your job, but I would like to assert my 5th Amendment right to remain silent”
  • Say “I do not wish to answer any of your questions until I am allowed to speak to an attorney, please”

The officer might, for instance, tell a DWI suspect to take alphabet, counting, or standardized field sobriety tests. Do not submit to these tests, they are inaccurate and largely up to the officer’s discretion. Respectfully refuse to take these tests. The officer working to gather evidence against you through questions and tests like this, so it is in your best interest to provide as little evidence against you as possible.

Once a person has been taken into custody (or otherwise deprived of his or her freedom in any significant way), a police officer must advise that person of their Miranda Rights prior to asking them any guilt seeking questions. If this is not done, any statements the person made could be kept out of court.

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Updated on March 23rd, 2020