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Can you refuse to answer police questions during a traffic stop?

On Behalf of | Oct 27, 2023 | Criminal Defense

It’s typical for the police to ask drivers questions during traffic stops. The police may ask, for example, where a driver is coming from or if they were drinking. This is one method the police use to gather evidence.

Many people answer the police’s questions, especially if a driver believes they have done nothing wrong. Some drivers may believe that they can’t refuse to answer police questions. However, other people wonder if they are legally required to provide answers. 

Drivers may need to be aware that they can refuse to answer police questions. Refusing to answer questions can help many people, especially drivers who believe they have not committed any crimes. Here’s what you should know:

Understanding your right to plead the Fifth

One of the benefits of the Fifth Amendment is that it gives people protection against self-incriminating comments. A self-incriminating comment is a statement that directly or in-directly admits oneself or another person to committing a crime. For instance, a driver may make a self-incriminating comment if they stated that they were drinking at a bar.

When the police ask questions during traffic stops, they often do so in an attempt to get a driver to voluntarily admit to criminal actions. Drivers can plead the Fifth during traffic stops. When a driver pleads the Fifth they are essentially stating politely that they refuse to answer any questions. 

Some people see pleading the Fifth as an admission of guilt, but this is not the case.

Many drivers have faced criminal charges during traffic stops even though they did not commit any crimes because of something they said. People who plead the Fifth and understand their legal rights often have a better defense against criminal charges.