Most people feel a little nervous when pulled over by the police, even if they have done nothing wrong. The police can take advantage of a nervous driver and try to get them to admit to things they normally wouldn't say. It is important to understand your rights during a traffic stop so you don't end up incriminating yourself.
If you have any questions about what you need to say to the police during a traffic stop or need help in fighting your criminal DUI charges in California, contact the experienced East Bay DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.
Do I have to say anything to the police during a traffic stop?
You don't have to say anything to the police during a traffic stop. You are only required to provide certain documents and that is all. Police officers are trained to ask certain types of questions to get you to admit to doing something wrong or try and catch you in a lie or make some conflicting statements. The best defense you may have in these situations is to say nothing at all.
You have a 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination. This means you don't have to say anything to law enforcement that may incriminate you. You can stay silent or tell the officer that you are not going to answer any questions.
Some people think that if you aren't doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to fear by answering the police and telling them the truth. Unfortunately, innocent people are charged with crimes all the time. It is the duty of the prosecutor to prove a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. There is no reason you should provide the prosecutor with any extra ammunition to prove their case.
What should you NOT do during a traffic stop?
It is just as important to know what not to do during a traffic stop. Dealing with the police who may be accusing you of something you didn't do or treating you like a criminal can be frustrating. But you should always stay calm during the traffic stop.
Know when to pick your battles and trying to argue with the police on the side of the highway will generally not go well. You may end up facing additional charges of resisting arrest or worse. Remember, the police cannot convict you of a crime, they can only arrest you. It is up to the court system to determine if you are guilty. Any arguments you have should be handled in the courtroom with an experienced criminal defense attorney at your side.
If I'm stopped at a DUI checkpoint, do I have to say anything to the police?
Sobriety checkpoints or DUI checkpoints are different than regular traffic stops. Police need a reason to make a traffic stop, even for something as simple as a broken tail light. With a DUI checkpoint, the police can stop random vehicles (under certain restrictions). At a DUI checkpoint, the police may briefly stop a vehicle, and check the driver's license, registration, and insurance even if the driver did nothing wrong.
At a DUI checkpoint, the police may try and ask some of the same types of questions to try and figure out if the driver is impaired, like asking if the driver was drinking or where they were coming from. You still have the right to refuse to answer these questions. If you think responding to the questions may tend to incriminate you for some crime like a DUI, you should refuse to answer any questions.
What do I need to give the police during a traffic stop?
To drive on California roads, drivers need a valid driver's license, the vehicle needs to be insured and registered. The police can check a driver's license, insurance, and vehicle registration during a traffic stop.
It may be a violation to be driving without a valid license, driving on a suspended license, driving without proof of insurance, or driving without valid registration. Failing to produce these documents can result in a ticket, criminal charges, impounding the vehicle, or other penalties, depending on the type of offense.
What happens if I lie to the police during a traffic stop?
It is also a bad idea to lie to the police during your traffic stop. The police may pick up on this and use it against you. Even if you lied about something relatively minor, that lie will likely become part of the police officer's report and testimony if the case goes before a jury.
If you think something you say may be incriminating then it is best to stay silent and have your lawyer deal with any questions the police or prosecutor has. This is part of your constitutional rights against self-incrimination.
Traffic Stop Questions and DUI Defense by East Bay Criminal Defense Lawyer
East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 35 years of DUI experience and understands how restrictive it can be to lose your license. An IID can get you back on the road after a DUI conviction, but not getting convicted in the first place can mean you can keep your full license with no restrictions. Representing drivers in Contra Costa County and Alameda County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local DUI laws, and the local officers and prosecutors involved. Contact East Bay DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.