Should I Answer Police Questions When Pulled Over?

Posted by Richard Lawson | Dec 01, 2016 | 0 Comments

The age-old question about whether a person should answer police questions when pulled over does not have a simple answer.  

All of us are required to provide a police officer our driver's license, proof of insurance, and registration.  

However, we are not legally required to engage a police officer any further.  Police officers are trained to use a routine traffic stop to engage a person in a conversation that can ultimately lead to other charges, including a DUI in Georgia

Some of the questions that seem benign but can lead to trouble are:

  • From where are you coming?
  • With whom were you with?
  • How long were you there?
  • Do you know how fast you were driving?
  • Did you see a stop sign back there?
  • Do you know why I pulled you over?

All of those questions are designed to cause a person to make admissions against their interest.  

Additionally, during questioning police officers are trained to make physical observations, such as:

  • Odor of alcohol on a person's breath or person
  • Disheveled clothing
  • Bloodshot or watery eyes
  • Thick or slow speech
  • Slurred speech
  • Inability to follow directions
  • Basic confusion and disorientation
  • Trouble with basic motor coordination

Furthermore, the police are trained to look for contraband in “plain view.”  When an officer sees an open container or alcohol or evidence of drug usage, that evidence can be used to build a case against someone.  

What Should a Person Do When Pulled Over by the Police?

The basic rule of thumb is only to provide information that is required and nothing more.  You are not obliged to answer the police questions listed above.  That being said, police officers take great offense when their questions are not answered.  

As a result, make sure to be polite, and do your best to make a police officer feel you are answering his or her questions, without revealing too much. 

Keep your answers short and direct.  Never answer a question about how much alcohol you have consumed.  It is far better to decline to answer a question rather than to lie. Remember, the proverbial answer of “two beers” is never believed.

If you feel the police are unlawfully holding you, ask if you are being detained.  Once a person is arrested or detained, their constitutional rights are invoked.  

If you are being arrested, you cannot resist, or you risk being charged with obstruction.  The time and place to fight an unlawful arrest is in the courtroom.  

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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