When the police have reasonable suspicion that a driver is drunk, such as when the driver is speeding through lights or swerving, then they can pull the vehicle over. To gather evidence against the driver to prove that they are drunk, however, it’s not uncommon for the police to start asking probing questions.
The police could ask the driver, simply, whether they are drunk or had been drinking. They could also ask if the driver left a bar or have any open bottles of alcohol in their car. Some drivers may respond openly to the police. Or, the driver could respond by pleading the Fifth.
When a driver pleads the Fifth, they are essentially stating that they are refusing to answer any questions that may lead to self-incrimination. Pleading the Fifth is a constitutional right. While it’s a simple answer, it’s not everyone’s first choice. Here’s why:
Is pleading the Fifth admission of guilt?
Many people believe that pleading the Fifth means that they are admitting guilt to a nonspecific crime. In other words, they’re afraid that they’ll “look guilty.” While that may be true in the eyes of the officer who pulls you over, asserting your rights can never be held against you in a court of law.
The reason why the Fifth Amendment helps innocent people is because the police could use an unsuspecting comment to charge someone with a crime. In other words, many people have been jailed because something they said offhanded was seen as an admission of a crime.
Drivers who are pulled over because the police believe that they are drunk can greatly benefit from pleading the Fifth. However, drivers who believe their rights were violated during a traffic stop may need to seek legal help. If a driver is facing criminal charges, learning how to build a defense can protect them from a criminal record, fines and incarceration.