Being stopped by the police can be very stressful. People react under stress in ways that are inconsistent with the way they normally behave. This behavior can often be viewed as suspicious by the police,
Thereby unnecessarily escalating the encounter. Here are some pointers and tips to make your motor vehicle stop go as smooth as possible:
- Stay calm. Be polite and provide the police officer with your license and any other vehicle paperwork they may ask for (registration and insurance card).
- Keep quiet. You have the right to remain silent – USE IT! If the cop asks you if you know why he stopped you simply say “no” because you don’t. If he asks you how fast you were going or any other question that could lead to an incriminating answer, answer his question with a question like “officer, is there any way I can help,” or “officer, am I free to leave?” You are NEVER required to talk to police or answer questions. So don’t.
- NEVER consent to a search. Books can be written about the law of search and seizure. However, just remember this. If a cop asks you if he can search you or your vehicle do not say yes. Contrary to popular myth, if you say “yes” that does not make the cop not want to search your car. In fact, you can bet he WILL search your car if you consent. Further, if the police have the authority to search your car they will not ask they will just do it. So if they are asking it’s only because they do not have any independent legal reason to do so. A “consent search” is an end run around the legal reasons to search which are otherwise required. So don’t consent. EVER!
- Don’t be afraid to ask for an attorney. A traffic stop should be just that – a traffic stop. When things escalate to the police asking you questions not germane to your driving, such as where you are coming from, where you are going, what kind of work you do, and whether you have anything illegal in the car, don’t be afraid to invoke your Constitutional right to counsel by saying “officer, I would like to consult with an attorney before answering any questions.
- Keep your big mouth shut. If you are ever arrested for an auto crime keep your big trap shut. This means don’t start yapping to everyone who will listen such as the other cops, other detainees, the janitor, or even yourself. Most police cars are rigged for audio as well as video, as are police stations and headquarters. So whatever you are doing or saying will be caught on audio and video and will be used against you. So do and say NOTHING.