A police officer pulls you over. They ask for your license and registration, which you know that you’re required to give them. You provide them with the proper documentation.
But then the officer starts asking you questions. Should you answer them? Are you obligated to answer them? What problems can arise if you do?
All you have to do is identify yourself
One key thing to remember is that you do have a right to remain silent. You don’t have to answer any questions. You do have to identify yourself since you are the driver of a motor vehicle, but you may not want to say anything else beyond that.
For example, the officer may ask if you know how fast you were going. If you say you’re not sure, that’s the end of it, in many cases. But if you say that you know you were breaking the speed limit, suddenly the officer can use that against you in court.
This is similar to when an officer asks you if you’ve had anything to drink or if you knew that you ran a red light. If you admit to drinking, then the officer may arrest you, claiming that they felt like your actions on the road meant you were impaired and that your admission to consuming alcohol gave them grounds for that arrest. In the case of the example with a red light, it may be better just to say that you can’t remember if it was red or yellow at the time.
Essentially, you don’t have to answer questions asked by the police and it’s important to realize that you could accidentally incriminate yourself by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. This is just part of the reason why you have a right to legal representation and you need to know about all of your options.