If you get pulled over by the police for a traffic stop, the officer is likely going to come up to your car and talk to you. It is at this point that people are sometimes unsure if they have to engage in this conversation or not. They know that they do have a right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment, but how does that apply when they are pulled over on the side of the road?
Generally speaking, the only information you have to provide to the officer at that time is appropriate identifying information. This starts with your driver’s license, showing who you are and demonstrating that it is legal for you to be behind the wheel of that vehicle. You may also have to show your registration and proof of insurance, as these are required for all drivers. One of the first things that an officer will do is ask for this documentation, and it’s wise to provide it without complaint.
The right to remain silent
Beyond that, you may remain silent. It’s best not to ignore the officer, but to explain that you don’t want to answer any other questions. You may invoke your right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment, or you may just explain to the officer that you’d prefer not to answer any questions without your legal team at your side.
After all, you don’t want to accidentally say something to incriminate yourself. If the officer asks you if you knew how fast you were going, for instance, they may just be trying to get you to admit to speeding. If they ask you if you’ve had anything to drink, they may be trying to get you to incriminate yourself by making it appear that you were driving under the influence – even if that drink was hours ago and you are certainly not impaired. You don’t want to say anything that will make your situation worse.
That being said, you may get arrested after a traffic stop. If you find yourself facing charges, it’s important to know about your criminal defense options and all of your rights as an American citizen.