Traffic stops can be unpleasant, that part is obvious. What isn’t obvious is what you can and can’t say to stay out of trouble when the officer asks you questions about your whereabouts, whether you have been drinking, or whether you have broken the law in other ways. Indeed, most people are not stopped often enough to know how to deal with the police in polite, productive and protective manner.
With that said, this post will focus on what you can and should not say during a traffic stop. Remember, the following is not legal advice. So if you have further questions about what can and cannot get you in trouble, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Make no admissions – It cannot be stressed enough that you should make no admissions to the officer. Yes, the officer will ask some penetrating questions about whether you have been drinking or whether you knew how fast you were going, but these questions are likely framed to give the officer probable cause to either cite you or to ask you to step out of the car for a field sobriety test.
So for example, if the officer asks if you know why he or she stopped you, you can say that you don’t know, but you can produce your driver’s license and proof of insurance and wait for the next question. If the officer next asks if you have been drinking, you can say “why do you ask?” Answering a question with a request for more information is neither an admission (which could lead to field sobriety tests) or a refusal to answer the question.