When you have been pulled over by a police officer you may feel nervous. The officer is already on a mission. Although you have been seized and are unable to leave freely, the officer need not give you Miranda warnings. He will use this to his advantage. The officer is conducting an investigation and he wants to arrest you for DUI. He already thinks you are drunk and he wants you to provide him with the evidence to seal your fate.
I’ve often been asked this particular question as if there is a special answer that will magically make the officer leave you alone. There isn’t. Whether the officer is polite, stern or aggressive, he is seeking the same thing: evidence to use against you. What if you have not been drinking for several hours, should you tell the truth and say something like “not recently” or “no” or how about “earlier today”? First remember that when you exercise your right to refuse to answer questions, this will be interpreted by the officer as a challenge to his authority. Remain calm. Remember also that, especially in Hawaii, the officer will almost without fail say that when you spoke he smelled the odor of alcohol. Thus, if you admit to drinking you have confirmed his suspicion and if you deny he will say you are lying. You need not answer any of his questions. He can demand your license and other paperwork. Have it ready and give it to him. Do not fumble looking for it. Do not answer his questions regarding drinking. Try your best to not even speak to him. The officer may arrest you anyway but he will be far less credible saying he smelled alcohol if you never spoke to him, and consent and understanding other parts of the investigation is questionable as well. Just say no to answering his questions. But don’t actually say “no”, just don’t answer.
The Contributor is Kevin O’Grady esquire. Kevin O’Grady practices in Honolulu, Hawaii, has been in practice since 1997, is a former prosecutor, a member of the National College for DUI Defense, the NACDL, and HACDL and he is a Major in the U.S. Army reserve as a Judge Advocate. His practice is 90% DUI and traffic related. He focuses on DUI, criminal defense, and Courts-Martial. He can be reached at 1-800-DUI-CASE, 808-521-3367, WWW.CriminalAndMilitaryDefenseHawaii.Com, or Paralegal1@CriminalAndMilitaryDefenseHawaii.Com