Very little, according to the Answer Man column today:
Dear Answer Man, I’m intrigued by golfer Tiger Woods’ decision not to be interviewed by the Florida Highway Patrol. Is that an option in Minnesota if the State Patrol wants to question you after a traffic accident, or is that an option only if you’re a big shot, or in Florida?
There are some variables in this case, not the least of which is that Woods is a big shot, but that’s very much an option all over the U.S. of A., since you’re never obligated to say anything that might incriminate you.
The Florida Highway Patrol informed the golf star after the accident early Friday that “further discussion with them is both voluntary and optional,” according to Woods’ attorney, and that’s true. All Woods or anyone else has to do is provide his license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. I talked with Lt. Leslie Herold of the Florida State Patrol this morning and he said, “Even if someone had been killed, I still can’t compel someone to give a statement” or to answer basic questions about what happened.
Herold also said that any details that might be shared in an accident report of this kind generally aren’t admissible in a criminal court proceeding.
Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Jeff Westrum said this morning it’s very much a Fifth Amendment issue, that you’re not required to say anything about a matter that might lead to prosecution. Westrum, in the Rochester district office, said, “I would venture to say that (Florida patrol officers) will do enough investigation of this that you might not need a lot of information from Mr. Woods. The longer he prolongs this, the more they’ll look into it.”There’s no brain quite as big as the Answer Man’s. Send questions to P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903 or firstname.lastname@example.org.