Regardless of what an officer might say to intimidate or otherwise persuade you – you are not required to submit to: (1) incriminating questions; (2) vehicle searches; (3) field sobriety tests; or (4) chemical tests. If you refuse to submit to questions, vehicle searches, field sobriety tests, and/or chemical tests, you will likely be arrested. Nevertheless, you will likely end up in jail regardless of submitting to requests if the officer smells an alcoholic beverage, so it is important to not provide evidence that can later be used against you. Knowing your rights can be helpful, but it is extremely important to request a lawyer immediately if you are being investigated for a DWI.
With every question, the officer is working to gather evidence against you. Be polite and respectful, but do not admit to anything. Say as little as possible
You have the right to an attorney and the remain silent. To assert these rights, you can say something like:
- “Where are you going/coming from?”
- “Have you been drinking tonight?”
- “Do you have any alcohol in the vehicle?”
- “Officer, I understand you are just trying to do your job, but I would prefer not to answer any questions until I speak to an attorney.”
- “As my fifth amendment right, I prefer not to answer any of your questions right now.”
- Vehicle Searches
You do not have to consent to an officer searching your vehicle.
In order to search your vehicle, the officer has to have either:
- “Do you mind if I take a look inside your vehicle?”
- consent from you; or
- probable cause; or
- a warrant from a judge
- When you tell an officer that you do not consent to a vehicle search, they are generally not allowed to search your vehicle unless they obtain a warrant
However, there is an exception. If the officer has probable cause to believe that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in your vehicle, they do not need a warrant to search it.
Field Sobriety Tests
- Some common examples of probable cause for DWI cases are
- Odor of drugs/alcohol
- Drugs/alcohol in plain view
- Alert from drug-sniffing dog
Field sobriety tests are often extremely inaccurate and entirely up to the opinion of the officer
The officer may warn you of consequences for not taking the test, however, you are not legally required to take any field sobriety tests. Politely tell the officer you would prefer not to.
- “I am going to ask you a series of questions/have you do a series of activities to make sure you’re coherent enough to drive right now. Is that okay with you?”
In order to get a chemical test from you, the officer has to get either
You do not have to consent to any of these chemical tests – roadside OR at the police station. Politely tell the officer that you would prefer not to take these tests
In response, the officer will likely tell you that if you refuse this test, your license will be taken away and you will be taken to jail. This does not mean that you are automatically guilty, there are many avenues your attorney can take to get your license back and get you out of jail
- “I am going to have you blow in this breathalyzer for around seven seconds. Is that okay with you?”
- “I am going to have you pee in this cup, so we can make sure you aren’t over the limit. Does that sound okay?”
- “They’re going to get a sample of your blood so that we can make sure that you’re not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. Is that alright with you?”