If you are pulled over by law enforcement, the best thing for you to know that it is completely normal to feel confused about your rights and what you should do. As a criminal defense attorney in Ohio, I have seen my fair share of people innocently get themselves in trouble because they didn’t know their rights. Share the following with all of your friends so that you all will know what the law in Ohio is and what your rights and responsibilities are.
- Once you have pulled to the side of the road, after seeing the flashing lights, you are under the control of law enforcement, however you are not under arrest. You will be asked for your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. Be polite and provide all of these. That is where the information stops. You owe nothing more to the officer.
- Law enforcement usually begins a line of questioning. Common questions are about where you were, where you are going, what were you doing, etc. Make no mistake – they are investigating through these questions and looking for a reason to detain you. Answer nothing. The only thing you should say is that you are calling your criminal defense attorney.
- Law enforcement will be digging and looking beyond the reason that they stopped you. They have been trained to do this. They will be looking for evidence of any kind of illegal activity beyond the reason that they stopped you. They will be looking for signs that you have been drinking, carrying drugs and that you could possibly be trying to hide something. It’s part of their investigating. Answer nothing. Provide no detail.
- You have the right to remain silent. Use that right. By getting into a conversation, you are more liable to incriminate yourself. They are trained to get evidence, and that is the only thing they are looking for now. They know how to ask questions and direct you into incriminating yourself. I have had clients tell me officers have said; “only guilty people refuse to speak”, or “let me help you”, or “just tell me where you are headed and we will be done”. Manipulating conversation.
- In speaking to law enforcement, they are trying to uncover an odor of alcohol on your breath, slurred speech, incoherence, fast/slow talking, clear train of thought, overly talkative trying to justify yourself and beyond. The reality is, you are nervous. When people are nervous, they easily fail all of these – leading the officer into thinking he “got you”.
- Never allow a search of your person or vehicle. Don’t let them trick you into thinking you have to. Always refuse or anything found can be admissible in trial.
- Do not submit to field sobriety tests.
The Bottom Line: Don’t drink and drive. Understandably, after a couple drinks, many of us are completely fine to be behind the wheel. If you are pulled over for any traffic infraction, even completely sober, remain silent. Put my number in your phone to reach me immediately. After you have politely given your license, registration and insurance, the ONLY thing you need to say is that you are calling your lawyer: 513-260-2099