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When police ask questions during a DUI stop

On Behalf of | Oct 25, 2023 | Criminal Defense

During a South Dakota traffic stop, a police officer might suspect that you have been operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Specific incidents often spur suspicion of DUI, such as witnessing a vehicle drifting over the yellow line. When you pull over, you must exit your vehicle if the police officer instructs you to do so. However, you have no obligation to answer questions about alcohol (or any other issue besides identification and proof of vehicle registration and insurance).

If a police officer suspects you of drunk driving, he or she might start asking personal questions. For example, an officer might ask where you were during the recent hours prior to the traffic stop. You do not have to share this information. An officer might ask something like, “How much alcohol have you had to drink this evening?” You do not have to answer, even if you did indeed drink alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

If there’s no probable cause for a DUI search, you need not consent

If a South Dakota police officer sees an open or empty bottle of alcohol in your vehicle during a traffic stop, it constitutes probable cause to search your car. However, if no such potential evidence exists, the officer must obtain a validly authorized search warrant before rummaging through your vehicle. If there is no warrant, you do not have to consent to a search.

Stay calm, be respectful and know how to exercise your rights

You cannot face arrest or charges for a crime if you refuse to take a field sobriety test or do not consent to a vehicle search. It’s always best to speak in a respectful tone of voice. You are under no obligation to engage in conversation with a police officer during a DUI stop, however. You may invoke your right to remain silent. In addition to refusing a field sobriety test, you can also decline a roadside breath test, which is a preliminary alcohol screening and separate from a chemical breathalyzer administered after an arrest.

Do not argue with a South Dakota police officer during a traffic stop. Make informed decisions, and remember that the state can use any information you divulge to try to win a DUI conviction in court if you wind up facing criminal charges. You have a right to due process of law, which includes an opportunity to seek legal counsel before answering questions under interrogation.