The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that no person "shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." In other words, the government cannot force you to provide self-incriminating evidence. This law is the basis for the famous "right to remain silent", which allows you to refrain from answering questions, or making self-incriminating statements after you have been arrested.

If you are stopped by a police officer who suspects that you are driving under the influence in Virginia, you can choose to remain silent and politely refuse to answer any questions during his or her investigation, but technically you cannot invoke your right to plea the Fifth until after you have been arrested for DUI and read your Miranda warnings.

How can pleading the Fifth Amendment affect my Virginia DUI charge?

If you have been arrested for DUI in Virginia and police expect to question you, you should be read your Miranda rights. Once the police read you your rights, then you can invoke your right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment. Again, this means that you do not have to answer any questions, make incriminating statements, admit guilt, or confess to anything after your arrest.

When you plea the Fifth and remain silent and/or ask for an attorney, you are protecting yourself from self-incrimination which may be a helpful defense later on in your case.

At Your Virginia DUI Trial

You can also plea the Fifth when asked to testify at your trial. This means that no prosecutor, no judge, nor any attorney can force you to take the witness stand.
Instead, you can leave your defense in the hands of a qualified Virginia DUI attorney. And if you exercise your right not to testify at trial, the jury cannot consider this when determining their verdict. They may only consider the evidence which is presented in the case.

You should note that, as the defendant in your own trial, you cannot pick and choose your questions on the witness stand. Once you choose to testify, your right to remain silent has been waived.

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Bob Battle
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100% of my practice is devoted to serious traffic defense and criminal litigation in state and federal courts