In general, when you are signaled to pull off the road by a police officer, the officer must have a reason to stop you. Any violation of the California Vehicle Code can be reason for the officer to pull you over. Maybe one of your taillights is out, or the officer observes you speeding through a residential area — at that point the officer has a right to pull you over and write you up for the violation.
During the stop, if the officer suspects you are intoxicated you will likely be asked if you have been drinking. It’s natural to feel nervous when you are being questioned by law enforcement personnel, but it’s important to know that any statements you make may be included in an officer's arrest report along with any observations the officer makes at the time of the arrest. If you voluntarily state that you have been drinking, that statement provides the officer with supporting evidence necessary to proceed with a DUI investigation. Therefore, statements made during the arrest can be crucial to your case, and should be made carefully.Your Rights During a Traffic Stop
However, every person has a Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination. This right protects you from having to provide evidence that can be used against you in court. In the case of a DUI stop, this gives you the option to remain silent. If you decide not to make a statement to the officer at the time of arrest, it weakens the prosecutor’s case. The officer will have a difficult time getting concrete evidence establishing reasonable suspicion for intoxication if you politely refuse to answer questions during a traffic stop.
Many people believe that if they refuse to answer an officer’s questions, they will be treated rudely or punished more harshly with additional charges. While these are reasonable concerns, you are not legally required to say whether you have had a drink or not. Without sufficient evidence, the officer is not allowed to submit you to field sobriety tests or pose other questions that would help gather evidence for a DUI.
Even though you have the right to politely refuse to answer questions, you should never lie to a law enforcement officer because you would then be liable for perjury. It’s possible to be cooperative during a DUI arrest without making statements that can be used against you in court.Experienced California DUI Defense Attorneys
If you have been charged with a DUI in California, contact the Los Angeles DUI lawyers at HOFFMAN & ASSOCIATES to schedule an opportunity to discuss your case. At your consultation, you will learn about all of your legal options, potential defenses, and how we will work to skillfully prepare your defense and successfully solve your legal problem. We work in courts throughout the state of California and have over 30 years of daily courtroom experience. Our offices are located in both Los Angeles and San Diego for your convenience.