In this short video, Robert Ernenwein, a South Bay Criminal Defense Attorney with 30+ years of experience defending clients accused of DUI, discusses the DUI Stop and whether or not you should answer the officer's questions. We discuss:
- What should I tell the police if I am stopped and asked if I have been drinking?
- Am I obligated to talk to the police?
- Is there any downside to not answering their questions?
- What should I do if I have only had one drink (or a minimal amount of alcohol)?
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Transcript: During a Torrance DUI Stop, should I answer the officer's questions?
So, here's a common scenario. Perhaps you've been at home, you've had a couple of cocktails, maybe a glass of wine at dinner. Or if you've been to a party or maybe out to a restaurant, you're driving home and you're not paying attention. Perhaps you commit some vehicle code violation or may be the worst-case scenario, you're involved in a minor traffic collision. And the police come and you're interviewed and the police ask you, "have you been drinking?"
Well, anytime you admit to drinking and driving, it's arguably incriminating. And so, my first response would be, don't say anything. You have absolutely no obligation to speak to the police. You have absolutely no obligation to provide them that information. However, it's a catch-22 to some degree because if you refuse to answer any of those questions and they have any suspicion of you driving under the influence or of consuming alcohol and driving, then you are probably going to be in a situation where you are likely going to be investigated for DUI and arrested.
So, if you feel you're in a circumstance where you have not been drinking to excess or it's been a minor amount of alcohol that you consumed, then honesty with the officer can be very fruitful. I can never advise you to misrepresent anything to the officer, but you also have to keep in mind that if the drinking perhaps has been excessive or you're unsure about whether or not you may be impaired, it may be in your best interest to decline to answer any of the officer's inquiries and questions.