Neil S. Ruskin
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Should I speak during a DUI traffic stop?

When the blue lights begin flashing in your rear view mirror, you know that you must choose your actions and words very carefully — especially if you have any alcohol in your system. How you conduct yourself and the things you do or do not say during the stop may mean the difference between a warning and DUI charges.

Facing DUI charges is never fun, but these charges are not bulletproof. You may have more ways to fight the charges than you realize.

Seeking proper legal counsel after receiving charges is a strong move, but building a strong defense begins as soon as you get pulled over. Make no mistake, the officer who pulls you over is already building a case against you, and every choice you make in the interaction should reflect this.

What to say to an officer after you get pulled over

So, when you do get pulled over after drinking, what should you say to an officer? As little as possible.

In a very real sense, everything you say during a DUI stop can and will be used against you. Before the officer even approaches your driver's side window, he or she is already gathering information to make the case that you deserve criminal charges and punishment.

By law, you are obligated to give the officer your name, but you are not required to say anything else. The less you say, the better, generally speaking. You are well within your rights to simply request to speak with an attorney if the officer asks you further questions, or to simply give very limited answers.

If you know that you are probably over the legal limit and are likely to receive DUI charges, the less you say to the officer, the less that he or she has to build a case against you. This does not mean that you should be rude, but you are under no obligation to give the officer information that he or she might use to incriminate you. When in doubt, simply say that you wish to speak to an attorney.

Understand that limiting what you say to the police does not limit their ability to arrest you and give you charges, but it may limit their ability to use your own admissions against you. At all times during a traffic stop, you should remain calm and cooperative, and as silent as possible.

Begin building your defense immediately

If you do receive DUI charges, you should not waste any time building your defense and fighting back against the charges.

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