When a police officer observes a driver who has committed a traffic offense, such as speeding or running a stop sign, the officer has probable cause to stop the driver. The officer then has the power to look for evidence of other suspected crimes, such as DUI or drug possession.
At this point, many drivers make the mistake of trying to talk their way out of trouble. They think that by being honest, cooperative and contrite, the officer may let them go on their way. But a police officer who suspects a driver is impaired is not really looking for answers to the questions asked. The officer is looking for evidence that supports his or her belief that the driver is impaired. What a driver says can lead to a DUI arrest.
What You Shouldn't Say to a Police Officer
DUI stops develop in all kinds of ways but they usually go something like this. After asking for the driver's license and insurance card, the officer will ask some questions to determine whether there is reason to believe that the driver is impaired.
Officer: "Do you know why I pulled you over?"
In response, simply say no. Don't say anything further, even if you have a good idea as to why you have been stopped.
Officer: "Have you been drinking?"
Never answer in the affirmative, and again, don't volunteer any information.
Some people are tempted to say something like "I've only had two drinks." On the surface, it sounds reasonable enough. For most people, two drinks put them under the .08 blood alcohol limit. But the statement only serves to confirm the officer's belief that you are impaired. It also provides all the evidence the officer needs to ask you to perform field sobriety tests and continue the investigation.
What You Should Say to a Police Officer
When interacting with an officer, you should be polite and cooperative, but you should say as little as possible. It's OK to politely decline to answer some questions, such as "how much have you had to drink?" and "where are you coming from?".
If you are arrested, ask to talk with a lawyer, and say nothing more. Let your lawyer speak for you.