Understanding your right to remain silent if under arrest

For many Minnesota residents, the sheer sight of flashing lights in a rear-view mirror for a minor traffic infraction can be scary enough. When interactions with police involve potentially more serious situations, it is understandable that you can be very scared and unsure of what you can or should do - or what you should not do. Knowing your rights at this time is an important way of staying protected through a very uncertain experience.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Fifth Amendment guarantees your right to avoid answering police questioning. It is a fact that anything you say to officers may be used against you and you may not always know how certain phrases or responses could be interpreted differently than you intend. You should at least identify yourself and if you are stopped in a vehicle, provide your driver's license and insurance information but you do not need to offer anything else.

You can ask if you are being arrested and should always be free to request to speak with an attorney before answering any other questions. If you are able to speak to an attorney, officers should not be privy to hearing your conversation. You may also ask to talk to a lawyer before submitting to a breath or blood test for a suspected drunk driving offense.

If you would like to learn more about your rights and how you should be treated by law enforcement, please feel free to visit the law enforcement treatment page of our Minnesota civil rights website.

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