My Recent Involvement With US Police, And Why I Won't Answer Questions Again

I've talked with a few individuals on here about my recent experiences with the American justice system due to an ongoing investigation about my DUI. I decided to write a myTake about it to simply share my experiences. Love it, hate it, be interested, be ambivalent, do whatever. That said I'm not entirely sure how I'll proceed, but hopefully it'll go well.

My Recent Involvement With US Police, And Why I Won't Answer Questions Again

Why I Felt Comfortable Answering Questions

In the past I've had several amicable discussions with police both in the context of an investigation and just in general. I went to a military school and have always had a deep respect for our military and law enforcement personnel. One case that made me feel particularly comfortable this time was a similar situation that happened a few years ago that made me feel that the police were incredibly reasonable and would only arrest & prosecute people who were truly dangerous. A few years ago I was out with a girl-friend and had a few drinks. She was incredibly drunk so I drove her home before going home myself. About a 2 miles away from my house an officer pulled me over but didn't give me an explanation for why. When he came to my window to my abhorrence he discovered an open bottle of liquor sitting in my cup holder. It turned out that unbeknownst to me my friend had taken out a bottle of liquor and left it in the front seat. This obviously led to the officer pulling me out of the vehicle and having me perform a field sobriety test. I had no qualms with this and passed with flying colors. After which the officer stated that I was free to go and just gave me a fine for open container. I wasn't happy about the fine, but figured the system worked about as well as it could.

What Happened This Time

Last winter my friend and I were at a bar having a few drinks. Around 1am we were preparing to leave the bar when he asked if I could drive. I told him that we were only a quarter of a mile away from our house and that we should just walk. He responded, "if you can't drive that's fine, but if you can drive I'd prefer it so that I can have my car for work in the morning." I understood his point and gave myself a field sobriety test and passed. For this reason I decided that I was fine to drive. On the ride home an officer pulled me over and informed me that he had done so because my friend did not have the tags on the back of his vehicle. After informing me of this he asked "Have you had anything to drink tonight?" *This is when I made a mistake* I answered, "Yes." The officer then asked me to step out of the vehicle to perform field sobriety tests. He had me do a walk and turn on ice, count backwards from 69-55, and say the "abc's" but skip "L-P". The officer then informed me that I passed these tests, but failed his initial tests. I asked him what his initial tests and he responded, "you said you had alcohol, your eyes are glassy, and I detected an odor of alcohol." He then compelled me to take a breathalyzer and informed me that if I refused I would automatically be convicted for DUI. I then blew a .09 BAC. He then arrested me. At this point in time I was baffled but tried to make the best of it and develop a rapport with the officer. An hour after our initial contact my BAC climbed to .10 BAC. I was booked and then sent home.

DMV & Criminal Hearing

After 6 months I've finally just had my DMV hearing where the judge informed me that I was incredibly responsible, had a great rapport with the officer, and passed the specific SFTs that I was justified in being found guilty because I answered "yes" to the officer about having had a drink that night. If I had not responded "yes" then the officer would not have had sufficient evidence to compel a brethatlyzer from me.

My lawyer just emailed me yesterday and informed me that we were going to plea guilty to the criminal charges because the fact that I answered "yes" to his initial question was sufficient probable cause for the ensuing brethalyzer and conviction.

Costs

If I plead guilty to the charges my minimum sentence will be three months probation of my license, an additional $1700 in fines, 6 months ignition interlock device (plus a grand for that), 5 years of a criminal conviction on my record, an alcohol assessment/ class and compliance with whatever their recommendations are, a year sobriety and probation, and three days of house arrest. Oh, additionally I've already payed my lawyer ~$3500

Conclusion

I do not think I deserve to be convicted for this crime and subsequently have the harsh punishments associated. I was not driving erratically, my motor skills we're not notably impaired, and the biggest mistake I made was being honest and answering the officer. I will never drive after having a single drink again, but this experience has also made me decide to never respond to police questions again as well. IT CAN NEVER HELP YOU. Our rights specify that "anything you say can and will be used AGAINST YOU in a court of law", but it does not say that it can be used to exonerate you.

Anyways, hopefully I did a decent job expressing my ideas and the situation. Interested in hearing thoughts. Call me an ass, call me a hero, call me Ladsin. It's up to you.

My Recent Involvement With US Police, And Why I Won't Answer Questions Again

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Most Helpful Girl

  • Oh wow... I've heard sometimes they wait a while to give the breathalyzer because they know the BAC rises with time. Sigh. I feel like... if you said No, but he saw the glassy eyes and smelled the alcohol, then what? He'd have to let you go even though you were lying and he knew it? I feel like you wouldn't have gotten away with that either. And then the officer would view you differently and who knows if you could establish a rapport after that. They're jaded by people who lie, get caught, and then try to buddy up. I know it's cost you time, money, and probably caused a lot of stress... but you were honest. And I think that still counts for something.

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    • From what I've been told the best response to give is either "I don't respond to questions, but am willing to comply with your commands. Please tell me what to do." Most of the time the officer is fishing for information with their questions. They do not YET have enough information to begin an investigation, but your response can give them enough. The perfect example being mine. If I had not said "yes" the officer would not have had sufficient evidence to conduct the investigation and the case would have been thrown out.

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    • That response sounds sort of guilty from the get go lol... but I guess it's better to sound guilty than actually say something that'll get you in trouble

    • Mm. I think the officer was lying about the other 2 indicators as they're the only ones he could pick that wouldn't show up on the video or audio recording. He couldn't say I had an unsteady gate, slurred speech, etc.
      Thus the only two he could use to justify it were smell and "watery eyes" which is honestly bollocks. It was below freezing outside that night and as such I was sniffling. "Watery eyes" in that situation would not be indicative of being drunk as opposed to being cold. That said I basically handed him the case on a silver platter because my admission alone was sufficient for everything else.

      Exactly. If I said "no I haven't had anything to drink" that would not exonerate me in a court of law, but it would be a piece of evidence he could not have appealed to.

Most Helpful Guys

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-7o9xYp7eE

    I had to chuckle a little reading this... NOT talking to the police anymore than what's necessary is day one lecture in any reputable firearms class.

    Malicious intent on the part of the officer or not is irrelevant Some POS prosecutor can ruin your fricking life and sleep like a baby all because you said waaaay to much and your words got twisted. Its like the Daily Show but its your life instead of your political career on the line. The more you know.

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    • Yeah. I oddly watched that very video before.

    • At least you weren't accused of some horrible crime like rape, and have to empty out your bank account, and your parents, and your friends, and your unborn children, to prove your innocence while she has an unlimited supply of funds from various women's organizations. So there's that...

    • The small blessings

  • I feel your pain, bro! However, .09 alcohol in your bloodstream is over the legal limit in my state and the legal system will through the book at you. DWI enforcement has gotten so tight assed where I live that I won't even have one drink if I know that I'll be driving later. Just the slight smell of alcohol on your breath is enough evidence for the cop to pull you out of your car, make you do the perp walk and give you a breathalyzer test. If you get a false positive on the breathalyzer test, than you're really fucked. At that point. it didn't matter weather or not you answered the cops questions. The cop could probably tell that you'd been drinking so he decided to bust you.

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    • Thanks for feeling my pain, but according to the judge my response was the sufficient cause, not my supposed odor.
      I agree that it’s all gotten crazy though.

    • A few years ago II was pulled over by a cop after having just one beer. He smelled beer on my breath so he asked me how many beers I'd had. I answered him saying that I didn't have anything to drink. He accused me of lying to him and he asked me the same question three times and three times I told him that I didn't have anything to drink. Finally the cop said, "I'll give you one more chance to tell me the truth and if you lie to me again than I'll place you under arrest". At that point I broke down and told the cop that I did have one beer. Then he pulled me out of my car and made me do the perp walk, which I passed easily. When the cop could see that I was sober he let me go saying, "Legally you are allowed to drive after having one or two beers, but if you lie about it than you will be given a breathalyzer test, and you don't want to risk the possibility of getting a false positive".

      That was the scare that made me decide to not even have one drink if I know I'll be driving later.

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What Girls Said 5

  • Damn that blows. Imagine if you had just made your friend walk like you wanted. I would definitely make my friend help me with that shit.

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    • I guess he could do some money, but it's mostly other BS like not driving, alcohol classes, and insurance costs.

  • this is your first dui? if so they should put you to community work iinstead

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  • here's where you went wrong.

    You drank then drove.

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    • Meh. According to MADD 300,000 people drive "drunk" daily.
      My driving was not affected by the alcohol in my system.
      My motor skills were not affected by the alcohol in my system.
      As such no one was in danger because of the alcohol in my system.

      If you get some sort of perverse pleasure out of punishing people for things that aren't harming others that says more about you than I.

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    • @TrixiePooch my lawyer is one of the best in the state and managed to get rid of some of the minimum sentencing things for my city which almost no one else could do (because he works throughout the state).
      -My lawyer was dealt a pretty crappy hand. If I had kept my mouth shut we would have won, but because I answered that one question "Yes" everything the officer did was justified. That's what the judge said everything turned on after reviewing all the evidence.
      - You don't lie to the police either. As I pointed out in this myTake you just tell them politely that you do not answer questions and that you want to cooperate to the fullest extent of the law. Did you read what I wrote above or no?

    • Meh. "best" may be a tad hyperbolic. He's very good.

  • Not to encourage drinking and driving, but did you know you could calculate how much you can 'safely' drink without getting over the limit? Did you have more than that? If not, could you have insisted on a blood test? The breathing tests are not as reliable as a blood test.

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    • I was "safely" driving. I didn't remember exactly how many drinks I had so I couldn't use the BAC chart, but I figured since my motor skills weren't affected I was fine.

      I had the option of getting a blood test, but wasn't sure if that would help or hurt me, but couldn't talk to a lawyer. In hindsight the lawyer says I should've.

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    • True.. or if your friend had those tags, you wouldn't have been stopped at all.

    • Yeah, well he had them, but on the front of the car. For some reason. I wanted to smack him

  • Don't drink and drive kids

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What Guys Said 25

  • I see where you are coming from. But, as a cop I can say he had enough to justify everything he did. Bear with me and I will explain why.
    The probable cause came from the missing tags on the car. That was the initial stop. Had nothing to do with your driving. If the tags had been there, you probably would have made it all the way home.
    In my state, in order to perform an FST we have to be certified. Meaning we have to go to a class and be able to detect inebriation to get the certification. It's intense, not many people pass. If he detected the odor of alcohol, he has probable cause again. Even if you answered no, he would have done an FST.
    Also in my state, you can refuse a breathalyzer, but its automatic guilt. It also does not halt determining the BAC. It just delays it. If needed, we will get a warrant and have blood drawn by a medical professional to determine the BAC. It's rare, but it does happen.
    And let's be honest, you were just over the limit on the initial with a.09. Most states have a.08 limit. Not sure why they did a second, it may be in their procedures. It may be in their laws to do a second. I don't know.

    As for the courts. I personally think all of that is a bit of overkill on a first conviction. I mean damn, it's a misdemeanor. You didn't kill anyone (although it was possible), you didn't display erratic driving, the stop was predicated on missing tags. I can see the three months probation as a slap on the wrist. The rest of it, I really couldn't justify. But, that's me.

    I can't tell you what to do. I will say that you did what was right though. As a non-prick cop, I would have put in the report that you admitted to drinking to help you out. That way the judge doesn't think you were trying to hide it, and the officer had to find out himself. He couldn't let you go because that would be malfeasance of office. If you were to get into an accident, and he is FST certified, that's his ass.
    Keep being honest. Not all of us are out there to mess with people.

    Personally, I think you got a prick judge. First conviction, and you get all of that? That's not right (in my opinion).

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    • Hmm I appreciate the response, but I think there's some confusion on portions. I'll just itemize my issues so they're easier to keep track of.

      1.) Yes, it was legally justifiable, particularly because I admitted guilt by saying "Yes". That was the key piece of evidence that justified the brethalyzer. The other FSTs were irrelevant (although the judge, my lawyer, and the officer agreed I passed the others). I'm also skeptical about the... honesty, of the "odor and watery eyes" claim because they're the only two things that wouldn't show up on his body cam and audio recording. He couldn't say that I had staggered gait, slurred speech, or anything like that. Thus that I "just happened" to exhibit the two signs not captured by the devices seems... dubious. Not to mention that I had just had a cigarette, and it was below freezing outside (leading to watery eyes).

      2) The first was portable, second datamaster.

      3) It's not up to the court. That's minimum sentencing laws.

      CONTD

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    • I see what your saying. The watery eyes I agree is debatable. Odor, possible. I could have been your friend and between the two of you he got a small whiff from the car. It does collect in small spaces, and can be detected in open air. I really wasn't there so all I can do is associate with my own experiences.

      Have I ever let someone go, even though I had hard evidence? Before body cams yes. I could catch a guy with 3 ounces of weed and let it go. Not because of the questions, but because it's not worth taking him in. Especially a first time offender. Just scare him a little, flush the trash, let him go. With body cams, near impossible. They stamp when they are turned off and on. They remain on for a stop, if you turn it off you have to justify the lost time, and why.
      They protect people from abuse. But, they also force an arrest. It's a double edge people don't talk about. Dash cam, I could just move the person to back of the car, or create a blind spot.

    • Sure. It's possible, but that's why my statement was the most damning thing the officer had.

      Sure, but you see that you're agreeing with me right? Being honest and answering questions cannot help you. It can only be used against you. Again, to reiterate. I have many, many friends who are military or officers, but I also recognize that they have a job to do, and they are trained to do certain things. Ie "do you know why I stopped you?"

  • Very well written and I certainly see your point. To some degree, you just had some bad luck. Officers are free to show some discretion in these matters and in this case it looks like you just met an officer who was not willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

    We've exchanged ideas before and I have always found you thoughtful, dispassionate and polite - and found your re-telling here to be in that same tradition. It speaks well of you - especially when the most common reaction would be anything but thoughtful, dispassionate and polite.

    Having had my car destroyed by a drunk driver - I was not hurt beyond some minor scrapes - I have tended to the harsh side of the law. However, in this case, I wish that things had been different. I am not a lawyer and so I am practicing here without a license, but it does seem to me that your attorney might be able to raise these mitigating circumstances.

    Honestly, your attorney will best advise you on what to do, but given the penalties for this offense, I would almost be tempted to fight it. No matter, I wish you the best and hope this turns out well.

    P. S. (Ignition lock after one conviction? Really? In most jurisdictions that is reserved either for multiple convictions or for a very high BAC level. The jurisdiction where you live must be exceedingly harsh on DUI.)

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    • Ah, well thanks for that. I'm not angry at the officer at all. He did his job. I don't think the law is right, but that's not his choice. Further, he's a rookie and I think he was himself compelled to proceed with the investigation by his superiors, because I don't think anyone would find me legitimately deserving of the heavy punishment given the specifics.

      Sorry to hear that you had that experience.

      My lawyer attempted to raise a few issues, but my state is not forgiving with DUI offenses and is one of the absolute harshest in penalizing it in the nation, ie 1 year sobriety. In fact I forgot that I also had to pay an additional $2000 fine already for my friend's vehicle being "arrested" as well.

      It's crappy, but life goes on. Being angry won't make me any happier or help my case, so I'll just keep going about my life.

    • Well, as I say, a tip of the hat for your sense of self-control and perspective. My sincere best wishes and, for whatever good it does, remember that this too shall pass.

    • Thanks, have a good one.

  • Interesting, and very informative indeed.

    I would have done exactly as you did. Thanks to reading this, I think I'd probably now play it differently.

    Appreciate you taking the time to post this.

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    • Ah, thanks.
      Don't drive under the influence, but if you ever do have to talk to police, SAY NOTHING. Answering police questions can only hurt you and not help.
      Glad if it can help.

  • The police part is weird. Here, we just do the breathalyser test. Even if you say "yes", the police might get suspicious of you, but it's not enough to convict. If you fail the test, it's byebye anyway.

    Though, he did follow protocol. It doesn't matter if you said yes or no, you will do the breath test. BAC.09 will speak against you.

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    • What? You just force the brethalyzer in someones mouth and punch them till they blow out? XD

      I presume you ask them to take the brethalyzer yes? I presume you have to have probable cause to ask... yes?

    • No forcing. The police regularly hold such raids. You're pulled to the side, checked if your paperwork is in order and if you are sober. Noone has time for these kids' games, though. You blow out and most likely will drive away.

      Naturally, you have the right to refuse breathalyser test, but then you automatically agree to blood test, which is again more unnecessary ceremony.

  • It's a misdemeanor right?
    Look on the brightside, you keep
    Your right to vote and Your right to bear arms.
    A felony conviction is a whole other ball game

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    • Sure. Thus I'm not crying about it. I just learned a really expensive lesson. I don't think it fair or just, but being angry won't help my case any or make me feel better. Thus I just take the punch and keep going.
      But I remember my lesson.

  • The police only ask questions to get us to incriminate ourselves, and don't forget that they are allowed to lie to us to get us to do so. The only acceptable statements to make to the police are 1 I don't answer questions and 2 I want a lawyer.

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  • They've gone overboard with the drinking and driving thing. Not that I think drinking and driving is OK, but the law and enforcement can be pretty ridiculous at times. I suppose I could insert "back in my day" stories here, but I won't because I don't want to make it sound OK to do. I'll just say that things used to be VERY different.

    But yea, with something serious like a DUI, it's best to keep your mouth shut. Still, I'm kind of surprised that your lawyer couldn't get you out of this, or at least get a plea bargain to a lesser charge.

    Also, just in case it happens again, I would not take their word about an automatic DUI if you refuse a breath test. I'd look into it further and find out if it's really true. I know where I live the cops will say this, but it's not true. You'll be convicted of "something" but not necessarily DUI.

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    • It's a state by state thing and my state has the harshest rules about it.

    • Yea, it's all state law. I think every single state got more strict when MADD put them under pressure. I think some states are as low as 0.04. I know for sure there are states that low for minors, maybe even as low as 0.02.

      MADD is actually an excellent example of a grass roots effort to make real change. However even the founder of MADD isn't too happy with some of the directions it has taken. It really has gotten pretty extreme in some cases.

    • Yeah MADD is crazy... But whatever, I'll live.

  • I got arrested recently for not answering a cops questions. It wasn’t for a dui. Just me being extremely drunk outside of a bar... lmao fucking extortionist US cops are.

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    • So you were arrested for public intoxication or drunk and disorderly?

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    • DUI pedestrian

    • Wouldn’t even be surprised lmao.

  • Simple rule: do not answer questions and always ask for an attorney.

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  • Now you know better and will lie next time. Whenever you speak with a police officer just assume you are being searched for incriminating evidence.

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    • If you lie that can also hurt your case. It's best to just not answer from what I hear.

    • Just flip them off as your answer so you can turn it into a huge payday for a violation of your 1st amendment rights.

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