Most people stopped by a police officer are convinced they HAVE to answer every question put to them. In addition, most of us want to cooperate with Law Enforcement personnel, and we should. Some may even believe that if we are cooperative, they will “give us a break”. Simply put, it does not work that way in an OUI context.
Our men and women in blue do our communities a great service, but they also have a job to do. Some of the tools they use to keep us safe can be confusing, this is not an accident!
In the initial moments of a stop one of the first questions you may be asked is, “On a scale of 1-10, how impaired would you say you are”. DO NOT ANSWER THAT QUESTION!!!
Here’s why: Many people think about a scale of 1-10 and they think the lower the number, the better. In the context of an OUI this is only half true. Police officers know that, in Maine, before a case goes to a jury, the judge will give them a set of instructions as to the law, evidence, and procedure.
A common jury instruction given in OUI cases in Maine says in part: “State law does not prohibit drinking and driving; the question is whether someone was under the influence. A person is under the influence if that person’s senses- their physical or mental faculties-are impaired, however slightly, or to any extent by the alcohol that person had to drink. The State does not need to prove that the person was falling down drunk, the State need only prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person’s physical or mental faculties were impaired however slightly or to any extent by the alcohol that person had to drink.”
Can you now see why ANY answer other than 0 –(ZERO) can be interpreted as an admission that what you drank (or smoked, or injected) has affected you, even a little bit? You may think you did well by saying “3”, when in fact you have literally admitted you are impaired just a bit. Guess what, that is all it takes! The ONLY safe answer here is 0.
We are clearly NOT advocating for people to lie to Law Enforcement, we just want people to know that they have a right to avoid self-incriminating statements. The question seems innocent enough, and it even lets you choose a number! Just remember this question is used daily by prosecutors to point out that the defendant themselves felt impaired, even to a slight degree.
First, DO NOT drive drunk, second, know your rights at all times. The Criminal Defense Team at Ainsworth, Thelin & Raftice can help you minimize the damage a criminal charge can have on your future, call us today.