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answering police questions

A person generally does not have an obligation to answer questions from a police officer—other than to give the officer the person’s correct name, address, and date of birth (if requested) when a person has been lawfully detained by the police (a stop and frisk) or arrested (a custodial arrest). And a person who has been stopped by the police while operating a motor vehicle generally must show the police a valid driver’s license, proof of registration of the motor vehicle, and proof of insurance—and confirm that the information is current, if asked.

But a person who has been stopped and detained by a police officer for a traffic violation or for suspicion of DUI/DWI (driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated) is not obligated to answer police questions regarding whether the driver has had anything to drink, where the driver is coming from, where the driver is going, or where the driver is employed, for example—or any other questions. For a person to properly invoke their Constitutional right to remain silent and their Constitutional privilege against self-incrimination, a person should affirmatively say something to the effect of “I don’t want to answer any questions and would like to talk to a lawyer.”

In Texas, while individuals are not required to answer questions from police officers during a stop and frisk or custodial arrest, they are legally obligated to provide their name, address, and date of birth if requested. During a traffic stop, drivers must present a valid driver's license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. However, drivers are not required to answer questions about their drinking habits, destinations, origins, or employment. To invoke the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and the right to remain silent, it is advisable for a person to explicitly state their intention not to answer questions and their desire to speak to an attorney. This helps to ensure that their rights are clearly communicated and protected.

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