Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What Not To Do During a Traffic Stop - Part 2

Here is Part 2 of yesterday's post:

DON’T consent to the officer’s request to search your automobile.  The law allows the officer to require that you step out of your vehicle and to pat you down in order to ensure his own safety.    The law does not allow the officer to search your car without having probable cause of some evidence of a crime therein.  That is, unless you consent to such a search, in which case the officer has free reign.  Upon reading this, your first thought is likely something along the lines of “I’ve got nothing to hide, so what do I care if the police search my car?”   The problem is, while you may not have anything to hide, your passenger may.  A family member who left something in your car may.  Or the person who borrowed your car last week may.  The reality is, none of us can ever be 100% sure of what is in our car at any given time. If something illegal is in your car, it doesn’t matter if it’s yours or not – you can be charged with a number of crimes dealing with possession of drugs, contraband, alcohol, guns, or the all-encompassing “paraphernalia.”  No good can come from consenting to a search.  Lots of trouble can.  The correct response to a request to search you car is something along the lines of “I’d rather you not.  I really do need to be on my way.”    

DON’T argue with the officer.  Getting an attitude or arguing with the allegations he is making won’t change his mind and may result in additional charges.  Say “yes sir” and “no ma’am” and be polite.  If you want to ask for leniency, then do it, but don’t be aggressive, and be polite if he refuses.  If you think you have a case like my client in yesterday’s post, that’s what the courtroom is for.  In the meantime, take your ticket and be on your way. 

DON’T forget that 99% of police officers are solid professionals, just trying to do their jobs and make it home safely to their families. 

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