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Never Tell This to a Police Officer During a Traffic Stop

criminal law know your rights May 08, 2017

A few weeks ago, I was successful in getting a client's DUI case dismissed. You may be thinking that I shouldn't be getting drunk drivers off. But this was no drunk driver. This was a tired mom who'd been up all night with a newborn baby. After taking her older kids to school and on the way back home, a piece of debris came blowing into the road. Tired from lack of sleep, she overreacted, lost control, and ran into a mailbox. That's not drunk driving; it's just an unfortunate accident. No alcohol was involved. No drugs. No impairment.

The police came. They asked her if she had taken anything. She volunteered that she had taken her prescriptions the night before, but nothing else. "What are your prescriptions?" the police asked. She answered, and found herself charged with a DUI because obviously, her prescription medications—which she had taken as prescribed—remained in her system.

Remember that whole "right to remain silent" thing we've been hearing about for decades? There is no reason to ever tell anyone what your prescription medications are. And you should NEVER tell a police officer. EVER. He may ask. Your response should be (politely, but firmly): "With all due respect, officer, my health and healthcare are private. I don't discuss them with anyone." The officer has no legal right of any kind to get information about your prescription medications from you.

(You also don't ever have to submit to field sobriety tests (i.e., horizontal nystagmus (the one where they have you watch the end of a pencil), the walk and turn, stepping, counting, etc.). Why would you put yourself through those things? You don't have to, but that's for another post.)

Many prescriptions—sleep aids, pain meds, anxiety meds, and others—contain chemicals and substances that are on the no-no list. If you tell an officer that you have a prescription, you may well give him the evidence he needs to arrest you for DUI even when you are not impaired at all. And you may not have me to help you.

Knowledge is not power, but empowering. It's what you do with it that matters!


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