OUI: You Have the Right to Remain Silent


The OUI / DWI Stop

If a police officer pulls you over late at night, you can trust that he or she suspects that you may be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  From the moment you are stopped, the officer will be looking for clues to substantiate that suspicion.  Your job is to do nothing to corroborate the officer’s belief, or to help build the case against you.

Put simply:  From the moment you are pulled over, your job is to be polite, courteous, and quiet.  You may think you can talk your way out of this.  You cannot.  Do not make the mistake of thinking that if you’re cooperative, you’ll be able to drive away.

The officer is going to ask you questions.  Provide your license, registration, and insurance documents, but after that, you do not need to give out any other information, or answer any other questions.

Here are some things the police officer may ask:  Do you know why I pulled you over?  Where are going tonight?  Have you had anything to drink?

You can (politely) decline to answer any of these questions.  Any answer you give may incriminate you, and could give the officer a clue that points to your guilt.  When you say, “I had one glass of wine with dinner,” the officer hears, “I’ve been drinking.”  When you say, “I take prescription medication,” the officer hears, “I’m on drugs.”

Your best response to any question is:  “I’d rather not answer that question, Officer.”  Any other response could help build a case against you.

Field Sobriety Tests

The police officer has the right to ask you to step out of the car.  After you do that, the officer may ask you to perform some Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs), such as walking heel-to-toe, or reciting part of the alphabet backwards.  You do not have to perform these tests.  They are voluntary, and you will not benefit from your participation.  The results of the tests are completely at the officer’s discretion, and he or she already thinks you’re under the influence.  Without the results of FSTs, it’s going to be more difficult for the officer to justify his or her decision to arrest you.

If You are Arrested

Despite your polite silence and courteous behavior, the officer may decide there is probable cause to arrest you.  In that case, you will likely be taken to the station for a breath test, using an Intoxilyzer machine.  In Maine, you are required to give a breath or blood sample.  If you refuse, you will receive an automatic 275 day license suspension, on top of any additional suspension that you’ll receive if convicted of operating under the influence, and you’ll face increased penalties including 96 hours in jail and a fine of at least $600.

Remember:  If you are pulled over, you have the right to remain silentUse it.  And if you are arrested, call us right away.  We can help.

Read here for tips to avoid being pulled over in the first place.
How to Avoid an OUI Stop