You’re on the way home from a lovely night out with your friends or family members when you see those unmistakable red-and-blue lights in your rearview mirror. You’re nervous about the potential for a drunk driving charge because you had a drink or two at dinner.

So how do you answer questions from the police like, “Have you been drinking?” or “Where are you coming from?” without getting yourself in more trouble. Here’s what you should know:

  1. The officer is fishing for probable cause. Where you came from has no possible bearing on why the officer pulled you over and the information can be used to justify the belief that you might be intoxicated. That’s probable cause for a Breathalyzer.
  2. You aren’t required to answer police questions other than to give them your identity. You can try to deflect the question by asking why the officer stopped you or simply decline to answer outright.
  3. You can’t talk yourself out of trouble, but you can make the trouble worse by talking. Some people make the mistake of admitting that the officer smells wine on their breath because they had a glass with their dinner — thinking that surely the officer understands that one glass over dinner isn’t enough to be intoxicating. However, that’s just the admission the officer may need to make an arrest.
  4. You can’t lie. No matter what you choose to say (or not to say) to the police, stick to the truth. A lie can end up leading to additional complications and charges because that’s considered obstruction of justice.

With luck, the traffic stop will just be a traffic stop and the officer won’t try to make a case for drunk driving charges. If you are charged, however, take the necessary steps to protect your rights and mount a defense.