If you have been stopped by the police, you will need to know what your Constitutional Rights are:

  • “You have the right to remain silent.”
  • “You have the right to an attorney.”
  • “You have the 4th Amendment right against any illegal search or seizure.”

You have the right to remain silent

When you are pulled over, the police are allowed to ask who you are, to present proof as to who you are, and your vehicle registration. Once the police begin to ask you about your night and about how much you have had to drink, it is important to know you have the 5th Amendment right to remain silent. You are under no obligation to incriminate yourself. Some people worry that their silence may be taken for guilt in the eyes of a judge or juror, but rest assured, your silence is a vital fundamental right that may not be used against you.

Many times, a suspected driver who finds themselves under an OWI investigation may try to “talk their way out of it.” Very rarely will you find that to be a successful strategy. By talking with the police, all you will be doing is giving them more and more information, and, potentially, evidence that could be used against you at trial. The more you talk, the more you are assisting the police in building a case against you.

You have the right to an attorney

While under an OWI investigation, you have the right to ask for the assistance of counsel while being questioned. It is best to inform the officer that you will not be answering any questions without the presence of you an attorney. In Indiana, you are normally read your Miranda rights, which include the warning that you have the right to an attorney. Keep in mind, those rights are normally read to you AFTER you have been placed under arrest. You will normally be placed under arrest after most of the OWI investigation is complete. The things you may say to an officer prior to your arrest can also be used against you. In most instances, the most incriminating statements made in an OWI investigation occur prior to any arrest.

Some people believe that only a guilty person would ask for an attorney. However, innocent people are sometimes unfairly charged due to them not exercising their rights and trying to handle the situation on their own and answering questions without the an attorney present. Don’t make that mistake in your case!

You have the 4th Amendment right against any illegal search or seizure

Being under investigation is not the same as being under arrest. With certain exceptions, the police will not be allowed to search your vehicle without a valid search warrant. In order to obtain a valid search warrant, the officer would need to contact the local prosecutor and have them apply for a search warrant to the local judge. The judge would need to find probable cause to execute that search warrant. All of this would need to occur without your consent. However, if you give the police permission to search your vehicle, that would waive any 4th amendment protections you have against illegal search and seizures.

Since anything found in your vehicle could potentially be used against you at trial, giving consent to the police to allow them to search either you or your vehicle would only be assisting the prosecutor in convicting you, or even worse, open yourself up to additional potential charges, for having things you weren’t even aware of!

Be Aware of Your Constitutional Rights Beforehand

By being aware of our Constitutional Rights prior to you being pulled over will allow you to protect yourself and not help the police in convicting you. Don’t feel overwhelmed and hold firm with your rights. An officer may try and coax you into speaking with him, but once you exercise your right to remain silent, the officer is no longer allowed to ask you any more questions and attempt to use your own statements against you.