You’re driving along, minding your own business, doing the speed limit and otherwise obeying all of the traffic laws. Suddenly, there are lights flashing in your rear view mirror. You pull to the right to let the cop by, because you are doing nothing wrong. But he remains behind you. You pull further right but keep driving because he CAN’T be stopping you. But he is. And you did NOTHING WRONG. Now what? How do you handle this?
First off, if you think this does not happen, think again. It does happen, and it recently happened to me of all people late one night on the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey driving back from Atlantic City to New York.
It was approximately 2:30 a.m., I was in the right lane with the cruise control set at 60 mph – the speed limit was 65. I was behind another car in the right lane doing the same speed. Suddenly there are flashing lights in my rear view mirror.
Two young troopers descended upon our car – a 2003 Lexus. One came to me and the other to my friend in the passenger seat. Upon giving the trooper my license and registration he asked “do you know why I stopped you?” My advice to giving a response is always “no,” because you have absolutely no idea what is in the cop’s head even if you know you were breaking a traffic law. But in my case I REALLY HAD NO IDEA – and that is what I told him – “I have absolutely no idea why you stopped me, officer.”
The trooper then stated that he had observed me “swerving all over the road.” This was a total fabrication. So what to do in this situation? One, STAY CALM. Two, DON’T AGREE EVEN IF YOU DID SOMETHING WRONG. Three, choose your words carefully because EVERYTHING IS ON VIDEO AND AUDIO TAPE.
I politely told the trooper that he was mistaken I was not swerving. He then told me that it took me an inordinate amount of time to stop from when he put his lights on. Again, another mis-truth. I immediately pulled over AFTER I got out of a work zone where the shoulder was blocked by signs and cones. I pointed this out to the trooper.
Then things started getting bizarre. The trooper on the passenger side began asking my friend if everything was “alright.” The trooper on my side started asking me where I was coming from, where I was going, and why we did not stay overnight. At first I was actually answering – “Atlantic City…home…we have things to do tomorrow…”
Then I “woke up.” We’re 2 middle aged, gray haired men in a car doing nothing wrong, so what is going on? So then it was me who started asking the questions: “officer, I have not been drinking, I was not speeding, and was not swerving. why did you stop me and why are you asking these questions?” But again, CALM AND POLITE.
The trooper then admitted that he knew I was not drinking or speeding, but insisted that I had been swerving. He then continued his line of questions, to which I then told him that with all due respect I was not going to answer any other questions: “officer, if you think I was swerving and believed that you needed to check me out as a public assist then I appreciate it. If you need to give me a ticket please do so. I am not going to answer any more questions and unless you write a ticket or let me go I am going to request you call your Sergeant to the scene.”
Remember, EVERYTHING YOU DO IS ON VIDEO AND AUDIO. SO USE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. With that, I was given my documents back and told to have a pleasant evening.
This whole exchange could have gone horribly wrong had I not known how to handle the situation. It is okay to disagree with the cop but the side of the road is not the place to question his authority. It is certainly not the place to tell him “where to go.” Like it or not, you have to listen to him. Had he ordered me out of the car I would have done what he told me to do. Had he asked me to do field sobriety tests I would have refused even though I was not drinking because the police cannot force you to do field sobriety tests. If I lost my patience it would have given the cop grounds to arrest me for disorderly conduct.
Also, NEVER give consent to search your vehicle or person, EVEN IF you have nothing illegal. Why? Well, you know your prescription medicine you keep in a small pill box – the cop doesn’t know if it’s prescription or a hit of ecstasy, and in a way it does not matter because it is a crime to carry prescription medicine out of the prescription bottle. For your cooperation you just earned yourself an arrest.
When you are given a ticket or arrested, whether you “did it” or not, contact our law firm at http://www.AttackThatTicket.com for a free phone consultation, or call toll free 1-877-99-NO-TIX