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Should you answer questions during a DUI stop?

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2023 | Criminal Defense

With the 2023 holiday season underway, you might be traveling more than usual to visit family and friends. You might also imbibe alcoholic beverages at a holiday gathering. This could turn a minor traffic stop into a DUI stop if a Colorado police officer pulls you over that same evening.  

One sign that a police officer suspects you of drunk driving is if her or she asks you to exit your vehicle. This often leads to a request to take a breath test or field sobriety test, neither of which you have an obligation to do. The police officer might also start asking a lot of questions, such as where you were, who you were with or what you were doing before getting behind the wheel. You do not have to (and shouldn’t) answer such questions during a DUI stop. 

You do not have to converse during a DUI stop 

If a police officer asks you to show your driver’s license, vehicle registration or proof of insurance, you must comply. You are not, however, under any obligation to engage in conversation or answer other questions during a DUI stop. For instance, if an officer asks if you consumed alcohol or how much alcohol you have had to drink, or where you were before you got into your car to drive, you can respectfully invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.  

A police officer cannot use your refusal to answer such questions against you in a DUI stop. You have a right to seek legal support before answering questions before or following an arrest. While some people think it is better to admit to alcohol consumption, if you wind up facing DUI charges, law enforcement could use the information you offered against you in court.  

How you should respond to a request to search your vehicle 

A Colorado police officer might ask to search your vehicle during a DUI stop. An officer typically needs a validly authorized warrant to conduct a search. In certain circumstances, such as if the officer sees an open container of alcohol on the floor of your car, a warrantless search is lawful. However, you do not have to consent to a vehicle search.  

If you consent to a search, the officer no longer needs to obtain a warrant. If police establish probable cause to make a DUI arrest, they can impound your vehicle to search its contents.  

The less you talk during a DUI stop, the better 

It is wise to cooperate with a Colorado police officer who has pulled you over for a DUI stop. However, you may always exercise your rights, including staying as silent as possible. It’s true that police can use anything you say or do to incriminate you if an arrest occurs and you face DUI charges in court.