Do I Have to Answer Police Questions During a Traffic Stop?

Minneapolis Criminal Defense Lawyer Kirk Anderson

During a traffic stop, many drivers discover that their adrenaline levels go through the roof. What are they supposed to say? Will failing to answer get them in trouble? Generally, during a traffic stop, you’ve already done something wrong that led to the officer pulling you over. Should you exercise your right to remain silent? Legally speaking, do you even have the right to remain silent during a traffic stop?

The Right to Hold Your Tongue

During a traffic stop, you don’t have to speak to the officer. Even police officers acknowledge that you don’t have to speak to them during a routine traffic stop. However, it’s important to carefully consider your reason for holding your silence.

Are you hoping to avoid a ticket? If so, you may get better results from cooperating and answering the officer’s questions civilly, rather than stonily holding your silence and refusing to share any information.

Are you afraid of incriminating yourself? You got pulled over for driving just a little above the speed limit, but you know you’ve been drinking and driving. You may think that your silence will prevent the officer from noticing, which could reduce the penalties you face. In some cases, however, your silence could prompt the officer to investigate further–which could ultimately result in a DUI charge.

Do you know that you’re guilty? There are many reasons why an officer may pull you over, from speeding or running a red light to a blown out taillight or expired registration. If you have no idea what you did, cooperating with the officer can make it easier for you to get your warning and go on your way.

Ultimately, you always have the right to hold your silence during a traffic stop. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s your smartest move. Instead, stay civil! Avoid saying anything that might incriminate you (mentions of your speed, for example), but remain civil with the officer and cooperate as far as possible. Often, that will have a far better end result than any attempt to exercise the right to remain silent.

What Do You Have to Share?

During a traffic stop, there is some information that you will have to share with the officer–even if you’re choosing to stay silent throughout the stop. This includes:

Identifying information. You may have to provide your driver’s license, which will show the officer your name. You cannot simply sit in your car and refuse to answer those queries. If you do not have your license with you, your best bet is to give your name, your license number if you know it, and the reason for your lack of license.

Insurance information. You must legally carry insurance to drive your vehicle in Minnesota. Failure to provide your insurance information can result in further fees and citations.

DUI tests. If an officer requests that you submit to a breathalyzer or blood test to determine whether you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you can technically refuse–but you shouldn’t. Under Minnesota’s implied consent law, if you fail to submit to drug or alcohol testing after driving, you may lose your license for a year. If the officer suspects you of driving under the influence, you’re better off taking the test to prove your sobriety.

Did you get stopped during a routine traffic query in Minnesota?

Do you need an experienced traffic attorney to help argue your case? Contact us  today to set up your consultation and learn more about how we can help you avoid many of the expenses that go along with a routine traffic ticket.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact attorney Kirk Anderson for an initial consultation.