Caring, Professional and Ethical

Photo of Mary Beth Mock

Do you have to answer questions during a traffic stop?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Traffic stops happen for many different reasons, and the police will often have questions that relate to them. For instance, a police officer may pull you over for breaking the speed limit and ask you if you know how fast you were driving. Or an officer may pull you over on suspicion of drunk driving and ask if you’ve consumed any alcohol today.

Regardless of the reason, you may feel rather nervous about engaging with the authorities. Do you actually have to answer the questions that police officers are asking? Or can you just use your right to remain silent so that you don’t engage with an impromptu interrogation?

You need to identify yourself

To begin with, don’t refuse to identify yourself to the police officer during a traffic stop. Give them your driver’s license, which you are required to have in order to operate the vehicle. Give the officer the registration and proof of insurance when they ask for it, as well.

But this is generally where your obligation ends. You don’t have to answer if the officer asks you if you’ve had anything to drink or if you know how fast you were driving. Odds are that the officer just wants to see if you will incriminate yourself and make their job easier so that they can give you a ticket or make an arrest. But you don’t want to accidentally say the wrong thing if you are innocent, so it may be best to exercise your right to remain silent until your legal team is at your side.

You could still be arrested, even if you use your right to remain silent – although you can’t be arrested specifically for refusing to answer – so it’s important to look into your legal defense options.