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What to Say When Police Ask if You’ve Been Drinking

What to Say When Police Ask if You’ve Been Drinking

What to Say When Police Ask if You’ve Been Drinking

It’s normal to feel flustered or nervous around law enforcement officials during a traffic stop, even if you’re confident in your good intentions. While no one enjoys being pulled over by police, understanding your rights as the driver is the first crucial step to defending yourself and safeguarding your future.

Sadly, our justice system is not immune to human error, meaning that even well-intentioned citizens can be arrested for crimes they may not be responsible for. This is why it’s imperative for drivers to know their rights and answer the police officer’s questions as wisely and calmly as possible during a DUI stop in South Carolina.

Keep reading to learn how to respond to questions from police after being pulled over for a DUI.

3 Tips for Drivers Pulled Over by Police for DUI

If you're pulled over by police on South Carolina roads and an officer asks if you’ve been drinking, it's important to know how to reply, as any part of your answer can be used against you in criminal court. While most Americans know they have their right to remain silent, there is less awareness about how and when to assert such rights, especially in the heat of the moment.

It's best to speak with a trusted criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible before answering any questions that may incriminate you or your passengers. However, there are some general best practices that South Carolina drivers can incorporate during a DUI traffic stop.

Consider these 3 best practices for drivers pulled over by police in DUI stops:

1. Be respectful and cooperative when possible.

Above all else, it’s crucial for drivers to remain as calm and levelheaded as possible in the presence of law enforcement. This is especially true during DUI traffic stops, where factors like alcohol, stress, and strong emotions can escalate the situation and lead to arrest. Even well-meaning people can come across as rude or uncooperative while under pressure, which can result in police officers growing distrustful or suspicious of the driver’s intentions.

While it's okay to be nervous around police, keep in mind that as a citizen, you have rights under the law. Even if you feel uncomfortable or scared, remaining polite and following instructions will ensure those rights are respected. If you suspect that your rights were violated at any point, your attorney can collaborate with you to prove it in court and fight to reduce or dismiss the charges against you.

2. Answer the police officer’s questions truthfully - or not at all.

You have an absolute right to decline to answer police questions about whether or not you have consumed alcohol, ingested drugs, or taken prescription medication. This is guaranteed by both the United States and South Carolina State Constitutions. 

You should also know that any answer you provide to the officer about drinking, drugs or medication, other than "none" may result in the officer beginning a DUI investigation. In fact, we've seen numerous examples of clients arrested solely because they honestly answered the police officer's questions. 

While we aren't going to recommend you lie or provide false information to police, you should keep in mind that frequently declining to answer the question is a better choice than admitting alcohol, drug, or medication use. 

3. Assert your right to give or decline consent.

There are various things that police officers can ask of you during a DUI stop. It’s critical for South Carolina drivers to understand their rights under the law to avoid life-changing repercussions, such as caving to pressure from law enforcement or consenting to tests that you may have legally declined.

Generally, there are two key things that drivers should keep in mind when pulled over by police:

  • Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) – These are a series of roadside exercises used by law enforcement in traffic stops to assess drivers for signs of intoxication and impairment. They can test for various things, such as motor skills, balance, coordination, cognitive ability, and comprehension. In South Carolina, drivers are not legally required to consent to field sobriety tests. This is true regardless of whether you admit to alcohol consumption.
  • Breathalyzer & Blood Tests – Breathalyzers, BAC readings, and other chemical tests can determine whether or not a driver is above the legal limit, which is a BAC reading of 0.08% or higher in South Carolina. Unlike FSTs, refusing to consent to a chemical test will result in serious consequences, including at least 6 months of driver's license suspension and mandatory completion of the Alcohol & Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP). 

If you're facing a suspended license for refusing a breath, blood or urine test, you do have 30 days to object to the suspension of your license. We can help you file the necessary paperwork to do so (frequently the same day we're hired). You'll then be able to get a new license (called a Temporary Alcohol), in just a few days. 

Relentless Representation for the Accused in Lexington

Since 2004, our firm has forged a hard-earned reputation for providing strong representation to the accused in Lexington, Columbia and beyond. Our dedicated criminal defense lawyers have extensive experience representing clients in a wide range of criminal cases, from sex crimes to probation violations.

Being charged with a crime can be an emotional and confusing experience. If you’re facing criminal charges, our firm can fight to restore your freedom and defend against the lifelong damages of a criminal conviction. We offer same-day consultations to best serve our neighbors in need throughout South Carolina.

A DUI conviction carries harsh penalties. Turn to a criminal defense firm with a proven track record of success. Call (803) 359-3301 to schedule a consultation.


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