Can You Refuse to Talk to Highway Patrol?

When it comes to being stopped by law enforcement, it is important to remember that you have legal rights and that you should exercise them. This is especially true when law enforcement is stopping you under suspicion that you may be driving under the influence. During a DUI stop, what you say and do can have bearing on the trajectory of your criminal case, should you be arrested and charged with a crime. Because it can also affect the outcome of your case, you need to be careful of what you say. As any criminal defense lawyer who knows what they are doing will tell you, it is best to not talk.

At Knowles Law Firm, PLC, our Phoenix DUI attorneys have worked with many men and women throughout Arizona after they were arrested and charged with all types of DUI offenses. While our award-winning lawyers possess the necessary experience, resources, and commitment to effectively handle DUI cases and pursue positive resolutions for our clients, we know that events that take place during investigatory stops and arrests can come back to haunt motorists, especially when they say the wrong thing.

When you are pulled over by an Arizona Highway Patrol officer under suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), you need to remember that you are being investigated for a crime. If an officer makes you aware that they pulled you over because they believed you might be driving under the influence, you need to exercise your right to remain silent.

Here’s why:

  • Incriminating statements – The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides you with the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. By talking, you risk making statements that can be used against you to not only make an arrest, but to also convict you in court of a crime. Even if you believe what you are saying is not incriminating, it could possibly connect you to a crime, reveal that you know facts which can be used to prove your knowledge of a crime, or be misinterpreted in a way that does. Law enforcement officers can misunderstand what you say. Some people may also feel the need to lie, or omit key information when they talk to an officer. If you are caught in a lie, it affects your credibility and whether a prosecutor, judge, or even a jury will believe you.
  • You cannot talk yourself out of an arrest – Unlike many people would like to believe, you simply cannot talk your way out of an arrest. If an officer has probable cause to believe you are driving under the influence, they are going to arrest you. Talking will only strengthen their case for justification, and potentially strengthen the case for prosecutors who will try to convict you. To put it simply, talking to a Highway Patrol officer when stopped for a DUI will not help you.
  • Regardless of guilt or innocence – You should refrain from making statements to a law enforcement officer even if you believe you are guilty, as there may be facts and circumstances you are not aware of that make you innocent or that can be used to show a Highway Patrol officer did not follow protocol when stopping and investigating you. These errors on the part of law enforcement can be used to challenge evidence or even have evidence thrown out, which can be a critical victory in a criminal case. Additionally, even if you are innocent, talking to an officer can lead to misinterpreted statements, lies, or statements that can be used against you.

Remember, you have every right to decline questioning from a Highway Patrol officer when pulled over for a DUI, and you should absolutely exercise these rights. Rather than answer their questions, simply provide an officer with your information and ask if you are free to go. If you are not, consider yourself under investigation, exercise your right to remain silent, and request a lawyer. If an investigation continues, you also have the right to decline field sobriety tests and even the preliminary breath test using a portable field device. You cannot refuse a second breath or chemical test at a police station without consequences to your driver’s license, however, so you should take the second test.

Regardless of what you say during a stop and no matter what happens during an arrest, you still have the right and opportunity to state your side of the story in a court of law. By working with our experienced DUI defense lawyers at Knowles Law Firm, PLC, you can make the most of this opportunity, challenge the government’s case against you, and highlight any facts or circumstances that work in your favor. Our team knows that DUI charges are not to be taken lightly, which is why we work immediately and diligently on creating customized defense strategies to fight for our clients’ rights, freedoms, and futures.

If you have questions about a DUI you or a loved one received from a Highway Patrol officer or any other law enforcement officer in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, or the surrounding areas, do not hesitate to reach out to our firm for help. Remember, time is a critical factor in DUI cases, and you only have 15 days to request an administrative MVD hearing to protect your driving privileges. Don’t wait to make the most important call you can.

Contact Knowles Law Firm, PLC for a FREE consultation.

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