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DUI / DWI

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.


Texas Statutes & Rules

Federal Statutes & Rules

Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fifth Amendment is relevant as it establishes the right against self-incrimination, which is crucial when a person is detained by police.

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights and protects individuals from being compelled to be witnesses against themselves in criminal cases. 'No person...shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,' which has been interpreted to mean that individuals have the right to refuse to answer questions from law enforcement officers that could incriminate them. This right is applicable during custodial interrogations and after an arrest. To invoke the right to remain silent, a person must explicitly state their intention to do so, as silence alone may not be sufficient to invoke the protections of the Fifth Amendment.

Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)
The Miranda ruling is relevant as it requires police to inform individuals of their Fifth Amendment rights upon being taken into custody.

In the landmark case Miranda v. Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination requires law enforcement officials to advise a suspect interrogated in custody of their rights to remain silent and to obtain an attorney. Suspects must be informed that they have the right to remain silent, that anything they say can be used against them in a court of law, that they have the right to the presence of an attorney, and that if they cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for them prior to any questioning if they so desire. Failure to provide a 'Miranda warning' to a suspect prior to custodial questioning generally leads to the exclusion of any statements made by the suspect from evidence in a criminal trial.

Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, 542 U.S. 177 (2004)
This case is relevant as it discusses the obligation to identify oneself to a police officer during a lawful stop.

In Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, the Supreme Court held that statutes requiring a suspect to disclose his name during a police stop do not violate the Fourth Amendment if the stop is based on reasonable suspicion, nor do they violate the Fifth Amendment's prohibition on self-incrimination as long as the name disclosure does not have a reasonable possibility of incriminating the suspect. This decision means that while individuals are not required to answer questions that could incriminate them, they may be required to provide their name, address, and date of birth to a police officer during a lawful stop.

Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourth Amendment is relevant as it protects against unreasonable searches and seizures and establishes the conditions for a lawful detention by police.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. It requires that any warrant for search or seizure be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. It is relevant in the context of police stops because it sets the standard for what constitutes a lawful detention or arrest. A stop and frisk, also known as a Terry stop, must be based on reasonable suspicion that a crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed. An arrest requires probable cause to believe that the individual has committed a crime. During a lawful stop, individuals must comply with police requests for identification but are not required to answer further questions without invoking their Fifth Amendment rights.