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Remain Silent or Respond During Michigan DWI Stop

Question: Is it better to politely answer all of a police officer's questions or invoke my right to silence if I am pulled over in Michigan?

Answer: Well, again, as you're sort of implying by your question, there is really no absolute answer to this question. Because any decision that you make has certain ramifications, and many times those ramifications can be negative. Let me explain to you what I mean. But first, I will say that as a general rule, it's best to say as little as possible when you're speaking with police. There's an old Korean saying that I love that applies in this context, and that saying is, “If you keep your mouth closed, you can't bite yourself.”

The problem, though, is that you do have an obligation to identify yourself and to provide drivers license, registration and proof of insurance. When the officer starts asking specific questions, then you may decide to become very narrow in how you answer them or not answer them at all. So for example, if the police officer asks you things like where you're coming from or where you're going, you may feel free to answer those questions, but just remember that the police officer is at that point starting to investigate potentially a crime, and that everything you say could become part of the evidence against you. Also, your failure to answer anything that the police officer asks you will then be reported by the police officer in his or her narrative report, and if the case ever goes to a jury, the jury will know that you refused to answer those questions, whether you were polite or not. And the jury may draw from your failure to cooperate an inference of guilt. So it's the classic damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Also, a prosecutor may be less willing to give you a break, say a reduced plea bargain, if you're not cooperative, and certainly the judge might take that into consideration in determining what the appropriate sentence would be. So even though the answer is yes, you should say as little as possible, just recognize that depending on how that is reported by the police officer, it could actually have some pretty serious negative consequences for you.

Client Reviews
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Patrick Barone is the ONLY choice for DUI defense. He was realistic from the start and made it a point to look at my case before taking my money. As a business owner, when I think of attorneys, I think of the "shark infested waters. Patrick is a shark alright, but his prey is not the client; it's justice for his client. Ten stars Patrick!! Chris F.
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Attorney Patrick Barone was very helpful and helped me understand the charge and sentence absolutely clearly. He also guided me through step by step helping me form a statement. His instructions were clear and detailed. It was obvious he cared about me understanding every important detail within my case. I would absolutely recommend this defense firm to anyone in need. Aaron B.
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The Barone Defense Firm is the firm I recommend. They are truly concerned about the person, not just the legal issue, but the person as well. They are the most knowledgeable defense firm that I am aware of, having actually written the book on DWI Defense. If you are faced with a DWI you will not find a more professional and skilled law firm. But, most importantly, they care about how the accused individual recovers his or her life when the case is complete. Very remarkable group of lawyers. William H.