If you’re stopped by a Raleigh, Cary, or Apex police officer, what should you say?

I usually encounter people AFTER they have been stopped by a Raleigh, Cary or Apex police officer, and after they have gotten into trouble.

Here’s how a typical interview with a potential DWI client goes.

Me: “After you pulled over to the side of the road, and the police officer approached your door, what happened next?”

Client: “The police officer asked me if I had been drinking.”

Me: “And what did you say?”

Client: “I said, ‘Yes, officer, I had a few drinks’”

Then the officer told the client to get out of the car and perform field sobriety tests. And a few hours later, the client was charged with a DWI.

What should the client have done differently?

Not answered the officer’s question!

Let’s do this conversation again:

Client: “The officer asked me if I had been drinking.”

Me: “And what did you say?”

Client: “I said, ‘Officer, have I done something wrong?’”

This is a MUCH better way of answer the officer’s question. Answer the question with a question. Be polite. Be friendly, But DO NOT ADMIT ANYTHING. Any admissions can be used against you later in a court of law.

In the second scenario, the client – stopped by the police officer – hasn’t admitted anything. He’s taken the officer’s question, and turned it around: “Have I done anything wrong officer?” He’s been polite. He’s be cooperative. He hasn’t been hostile. But he also hasn’t said anything to incriminate himself.

Try it at home a few times.

Officer: “Have you been drinking sir?”

You: “Have I done anything wrong officer?”

Officer: “I asked you, have you been drinking sir?”

You: “Officer, I don’t believe I’ve done anything wrong, but could you tell me why you stopped me?”

Remember: be polite, be friendly, but don’t admit anything. You have no obligation to “confess” to the officer that you’ve been drinking. And if the officer becomes aggressive, you can continue to be friendly, until the point where you ask: “Officer, am I under arrest? If so, I really would like to talk to a lawyer.”

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.