Getting pulled over by the police is nobody’s idea of a good time, but what starts out as an ordinary traffic stop can quickly turn into a real nightmare if you find yourself accused of driving while impaired (DWI).
How does a mere traffic stop suddenly morph into something more? Partially, that resides on the officer’s suspicions and assessment of the situation. Partially, it may have a lot to do with what you do – or say – after the stop. Police officers often ask drivers probing questions, sometimes because they have a genuine concern that the driver is impaired, and sometimes just to see if anything “shakes loose” and gives justification for further inquiries.
With that in mind, here are three things you never want to say in response to an officer’s questions:
1. “I only had one drink.”
If an officer asks, “Have you been drinking?” or “Is that alcohol I smell on your breath?” you may reflexively try to defend yourself by doing the exact wrong thing: admitting you have, in fact, been drinking.
That’s virtually guaranteed to subject you to a Breathalyzer test or another type of chemical testing, and that can easily lead to charges.
2. “I think my new medication is affecting me.”
Maybe you’re embarrassed about the mistake you made in traffic because you’re normally a much better driver. You may, in fact, realize that your over-the-counter allergy medication or that new prescription your doctor gave you is making you sleepy and slowing your reflexes.
It sounds like a reasonable explanation to your ears – but to the officer, it’s an admission that you are driving under the influence of drugs. It doesn’t matter if those drugs are legal for you to have and use or not.
3. “Sure, I can prove I’m not impaired.”
You may simply be anxious to end the encounter, so when the officer asks if you mind taking a “little test” to show that you’re safe to drive, it sounds like an opportunity to settle the issue and move on.
The officer is likely asking you to submit to field sobriety testing, however, and those tests are highly subjective and unreliable. If you fail, which is likely, you give the officer justification for chemical testing.
Forewarned is forearmed, and knowing more about how to handle yourself at a traffic stop can help you avoid DWI charges.