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Navigating a DWI stop: Words to the wise (and words to avoid)

On Behalf of | Jan 5, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Being stopped for a traffic infraction is stressful enough. However, the moment that you realize that you’re suspected of driving while intoxicated (DWI), your stress may go into overdrive – and that can make you nervous enough to say things you shouldn’t.

When you’re suspected of drunk driving, you need to choose your words carefully. Here are some things you should avoid saying:

1. “I only had a few drinks.”

As soon as you admit to drinking anything prior to getting behind the wheel, you are essentially admitting that you might be impaired. This is guaranteed to make the officer proceed with further investigations and your words could haunt you in court.

2. “I’m fine to drive. I’ve done it plenty of times before.”

While your confidence may be admirable, this – again – is tantamount to admitting that you’re driving under the influence. It’s better to remain silent than say anything like this.

3. “Can’t you just let me go this time?”

Maybe you’re just a block or two from home, and you figure the officer might be sympathetic – but you don’t want to count on it. Trying to play to an officer’s sympathy so you can avoid consequences can be seen as another way of admitting your guilt.

4. “Don’t you have real criminals to stop?”

Arguing with an officer about their priorities and obligations isn’t likely to win them over – nor do you any favors. You won’t improve your situation, and you may just intensify the scrutiny you’re under.

5. “I know my rights!”

It’s essential to be aware of your rights and use them – but you don’t need to aggressively assert them in a way that makes it sound like you’re accusing the officer of something. You can, however, politely ask questions about the reason for the stop or ask for clarification of procedures. You can also choose to exercise your right to remain silent (and you should) if you’re asked any probing questions.

If you’re lucky, you’ll make it through the encounter with either a warning or a ticket. If you’re arrested for drunk driving, however, it’s best to explore all your defense options.