“Have you taken any drugs tonight?”
Imagine a police officer pulls you over on the way home. As you hand him your license and registration, he shines his flashlight into the car and says you have red eyes. He then asks if you are under the influence of any drugs. You feel sober but you remember the joint you smoked earlier in the morning. What do you say?
It is important to be calm and polite, but it is also important to protect your right to remain silent. Your only obligation during a traffic stop is to provide your license and registration. If the cop asks you further questions, you have the right to keep a pleasant demeanor and explain you want to exercise your right to say nothing.
Sometimes police officers may say they suspect a specific kind of drug is in use. If this occurs, you can still stay silent. In Massachusetts, the Supreme Judicial Court has ruled police observations to be an inadequate cause to search vehicles before, so this can be a gray area. You do not have to answer questions without legal representation.
Do not consent
You do not have to consent to any tests. Testing for alcohol levels differs from testing for drugs. Unlike with alcohol, there is no clearly defined limit for drugs. This can make it challenging to prove intoxication beyond an officer’s observations.
While turning down a blood alcohol level test can get your license suspended on the spot, that is not the case for turning down drug tests. Massachusetts has an “implied consent law” that applies to alcohol and says you imply consent to breath tests by driving a vehicle. No such law applies to drug tests.
While it might be tempting to be as upfront as possible, it may not be in your best interest. Seemingly innocent explanations can still incriminate you.
Understanding your rights is critical when it comes to navigating sticky situations like traffic stops involving marijuana. Make sure you know your rights and protect them.