As a lawyer, I'm no longer surprised when I hear stories that come from a routine traffic stop. Everyone gets nervous when pulled over, even if they are doing nothing wrong. Here are 9 things you absolutely should not do when you get pulled over.
9 Things NOT To Do When You Get Pulled Over
1. Do NOT admit to anything. I cannot tell you how many times clients have told me “he said if I admitted to it he would just give me a warning.” As stated above, cops are permitted, and often encouraged to lie.
2. Do NOT consent to a search of yourself, your vehicle, or anything in your vehicle. Again, I have had more clients make this mistake than I can count. DO NOT CONSENT TO A SEARCH EVER. You never know what a cop will find. For example, unbeknownst to you, someone else in your car could drop one of their prescription medications in your car. If you consent to a search of your car and the pill is found, you could be arrested and charged with possession.
3. Do NOT agree to do a field sobriety test. (e.g., walk and turn, or leg-stands, or reciting the alphabet in reverse). You have no legal obligation to do them and where designed to give the police probable cause to arrest you and are notoriously inaccurate and unreliable.
4. Do NOT believe the policeman is your friend. While some cops are nice people, there is no reason to believe they are your friend or have your best interests at heart. Oftentimes they do not.
5. Do NOT make any sudden, jerky movements. No need to give justification to be shot.
6. Do NOT get out of your car unilaterally. However, if the officer asks you to get out, you should comply.
7. Do NOT elaborate more than necessary in answering questions. If you are going to talk to the cop, keep it simple and just answer the question: “yes,” “no,” “I don’t know.”
8. Do NOT leave your music on at full blast - it is never a good idea to be bumping “Fuck the Police” by NWA when the officer walks up to your car. I have actually had a couple clients do this.
9. Do NOT try to bribe the officer.
Some “rules” on these lists that are prudent, but not necessarily something you are legally required to do. For example, you have a Constitutional right to remain silent, but exercising that right may end up causing you more problems than it’s worth in a real life scenario. See: Police overlooking Constitutional rights news story.
Many cops do not understand basic Constitutional rights. Exercising your right to remain silent you may end up agitating the officer needlessly. In a real life scenario it may be best just to answer the officer respectfully, but only answer the questions asked. DO NOT elaborate needlessly and DO NOT incriminate yourself with your words. Everything you say can and will be used against you.