What Questions Should You Answer When Pulled Over?
Interviewer: Isn’t it the responsibility of the driver to provide every single detail to the officer?
Jerald Novak: Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, it would be my opinion that you should not answer any questions other than your name and address, and produce nothing besides your driver’s license and insurance card. I’m certainly not advocating to start fighting with the police officer or being argumentative or be impolite in any way. I think you have a duty to be polite and I would recommend people be polite, but my definition of polite is, “I’d be happy to give you my license and insurance card, Sir. Here you go.” When he follows up with any further questions, my response would be, “I’m sorry, Sir. I don’t wish to answer any question.” We have an absolute institutional right to remain silent.
Interviewer: Do you think that there is an intimidation factor on the part of the officer?
Jerald Novak: No doubt about it because the police officer has the power in the field. He’s got that cruiser. He’s got those lights. He’s got a band, a gun, a uniform. He is absolutely the personification of power. No doubt about it. If you exercise your right to remain silent, he’s going to exercise his right to arrest you, but let me say this. If you talk to him and you do all these tests anyway, guess what? You’re getting arrested anyhow.
I’d much rather be arrested where they have absolutely no evidence to use against me versus getting arrested where they have all these misperceived, contacted and confused evidence that makes me look like I’m guilty because of their interpretation or application.
What if Someone is Suspected of Using Drugs or Prescription Medication?
Interviewer: Do they also ask someone to perform a field sobriety test if they suspect them of anything aside from alcohol, like maybe if it is drug use or prescription medication? Will they also ask them to do the field sobriety test as well?
Jerald Novak: Sure. Absolutely, they will. They’re called standardized field sobriety test and again, they’re really not. What they really are is divided attention tests. If you look at those tests carefully, you’ll see that each test is designed to have you do two things at the same time. It’s very difficult to test. Whether they suspect you’re under the influence of alcohol, legally prescribed medication or illegal substances, it’s the same battery of test. There’s only one test that’s a slightly different one if they’re trying to determine if you’re under the influence of medications or drugs versus alcohol.