What rights do I have if I'm arrested?
Lots of them! Here are 2 of the most important ones:
- THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT: No matter where you're from, or what crime you're being accused of, you have a constitutional right against self-incrimination. That means, if the police ask you a question (other than basic information used to identify yourself), you don't have to say a word! The fact that you chose to exercise your right to remain silent cannot be used as evidence of your guilt in court.
- THE RIGHT TO AN ATTORNEY: You have the right to speak with an attorney as soon as it's reasonable for the police to allow you to do so. This may not be at the scene of the arrest, but it must be at the first reasonable opportunity. Once you ask for an attorney, the police may not continue questioning you. If you don't know any attorneys, or can't afford to hire one, the police must still stop questioning you when you ask for one, and provide you with one free of charge.
Does my right to remain silent include not providing a blood, breath, or urine sample if I'm arrested on suspicion of Driving Under the Influence?
Unfortunately, no. However, it's important to distinguish when you can and can't refuse this request.
- YOU ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO COMPLY WITH THE POLICE FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS. THAT INCLUDES THE PAS ("Preliminary Alcohol Screening") DEVICE THAT IS OFTEN ADMINISTERED AT THE TIME OF ARREST.
- YOU ARE OBLIGATED TO PROVIDE A BLOOD, BREATH, OR URINE SAMPLE ONCE YOU'RE UNDER ARREST AND BACK AT THE STATION. FAILING TO DO SO IS CONSIDERED AN ADMISSION OF GUILT, AND WILL SUBJECT YOU TO FURTHER CRIMINAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE PENALTIES.
What Can I Say to the Police If I'm Arrested?
Be polite, but clear:
- "I prefer to remain silent."
- "I would like to speak with an attorney, please."
- [If arrested on suspicion of DUI] "I do not want to take any field sobriety tests."