Should I talk to the police? The answer to that questions is almost always no.
If you have been just pulled over and they are doing an OUI investigation, the best thing to go is to be polite and courteous, but say as little as possible.
They will often ask you about how much you have had to drink, or where you have been drinking or what time you started drinking. What the police are doing during an OUI investigation in Massachusetts is they are trying to build a case against you, they are not trying to help you out. So the vast majority of the time when I see something in a police report that a client said, it is not something that helps the case.
The other context in which this comes up is, if there has been an accident or somebody has left the scene, or they are talking to someone the next day. If anything, it is even more important not to say anything to the police for a number of reasons.
The Police Report is Part of the Prosecution’s Case
Whatever you say will be written up by the officer, and used against you. And you can bet that whatever the officer writes down will be supportive of why he or she arrested you. If you say things that might suggest you were not impaired, they may not even go into the report.
And the police will often take whatever you do say completely out of context. Clients often tell me that what the police officer wrote in the police report is very different then what they had actually said, whether the officer misunderstood it, or just wrote it up in a way that makes it look as bad as possible. It may be true that police lie and make things up, altough that is not a common problem.
And people will often say things that they think helps their case, but actually ends up hurting the case. The average person arrested for drunk driving is just not going to know how information they give to the police officer is going to look months later when that officer testifies in court.
I have had cases where the police have had to prove that my client was driving at the time and the day after my client admits they had driven the car. Proving that you actually Operated a Motor Vehicle while impaired is one of the critical elements in a Massachusetts OUI.
If they had not said anything, it’s very possible it could not be proven that they were behind the wheel, so the case might have been dismissed.
Giving Your Side Of The Story? Don’t Fall For It!
There are a number of things that the police will sometimes do to try to get statements out of people. Sometimes they will say things like “We want to get your side of the story”, and “If we don’t get your side of the story then we will just charge you”. Their goal is to just try to get you to talk, and again, it is simply not in your interest to tell them anything.
I have had far more clients talk to the police and say something they regret then I have had benefit from talking to the police.
I have never had a client that said “I refused to talk to the police, I said absolutely nothing” and then seen bad things in the police report, or had a police officer say they spoke to me and they said X, Y and Z.
The bottom line is, the less you say, the better you are. Nothing you will say will help you after you’ve been arrested.
Russell Matson is the founding attorney of The Law Offices of Russell J. Matson, PC a criminal defense law firm in Massachusetts. His web site is http://madrunkdrivingdefense.com.