“Have you been drinking tonight?” – That is the last question you want to hear if you are having a pleasant, but nerve-wracking chat with a police officer that pulled you over. You don’t really know how to answer that question. Should you tell the truth? Do you lie to a police officer? Is there some fancy word magic you can do without technically doing either? Well, the right answer to this question is more complicated than a simple yes or no.
Is Honesty The Best Policy?
In general, it is considered best to be honest and straightforward with law enforcement when they are questioning you. It is their job to protect us, after all. This is true if you are a witness or a victim, but if you are potentially looking at a serious criminal charge, honesty will certainly make convicting you easy.
If you answer honestly and even give an accurate number of drinks, those statements can be used against you in court. Furthermore, any notoriously inaccurate field sobriety test results can be used as evidence as well. So being honest and overly compliant is going to make your legal defense difficult.
You can also run the route of telling a half-truth where you admit to drinking but state you only had two beers. Two beers is enough to give off an alcohol smell, but not enough to impair judgment. Unfortunately, everyone pulled over for DWI only had “two beers,” and at this point, law enforcement doesn’t believe us anymore.
Lying to Police
You definitely shouldn’t outright lie to a police officer. It might seem innocent enough, but lying to law enforcement is actually a criminal offense that can have legal penalties. If you answer no to the officer, they will likely want you to do a field sobriety test. You have every right to refuse this as well, but they will arrest you and make you do a blood, urine, or breath test at the police station. Those you cannot refuse to do and they will then catch your lie. At that point you may face charges for lying alongside your DWI charge.
So What Is The Right Answer?
You shouldn’t say yes. You shouldn’t say no unless you didn’t actually have any drinks. So what is the right answer to a police officer’s “Have you been drinking?” surly warble? The right answer, if you do believe that you are over the legal limit, is no answer.
You probably don’t want to sit there silently invoking your Fifth Amendment right, but you should say that you do not feel comfortable answering questions without your lawyer present. As you would expect, you are probably going to be arrested so the police officer can take you to the station and test you blood alcohol content. Unfortunately, there is no magical answer that is going to make the police officer just let you drive off.
If you have been drinking and driving, if you are pulled over, you want to do everything in your power to not hurt yourself more than necessary. Taking a field sobriety test, admitting to drinking, and lying to police all hurt you from a legal standpoint. While refusing to answer an officer’s question will get you arrested, it may actually help you avoid a conviction, which is the true endgame you want to prevent.
Need Help? Contact Jennifer Speas Today!
If you have been arrested no matter what answer you gave an officer that asked if you have been drinking, contact us today. A DWI conviction can have long-lasting effects on your life, and it is something you want to avoid. Let your defense begin early and aggressively by letting the Speas Law Firm take your case.
Disclaimer: The content of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Jennifer Speas to discuss the specifics of your case. Please read our disclaimer.