The balance of power between law enforcement officers and the citizens they are commissioned to protect only stays “balanced” when citizens understand and assert their rights.
Safety is paramount at any traffic stop. If you are being stopped, pull over at a safe place. Turn off your engine, stay inside the vehicle, and place your hands in clear view on top of the steering wheel. If it is dark outside, turn on an interior light. Always keep your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance handy in the visor or glovebox of your car. When the officer asks to see them, tell him where they are and that you are going to reach for them. Roll the window down only enough to hand your identification to the officer. Then keep in mind these four traffic stop tips that will help you protect your rights:
“Yes Sir or No Sir” – During a traffic stop, it is best to remain calm and don’t complain. Be courteous and respectful, saying “yes sir” and “no sir.” Always keep your hands where the officer can see them. Never touch an officer or try to flee the scene.
“I am going to remain silent” – Never talk to the police officer. Not only do you have the right to remain silent, but as a matter of fact, the Supreme Court attests that you should never speak to an officer before or after you have been arrested. The Supreme Court ruling states you must speak up and audibly inform the officer, “I am going to remain silent.” By keeping your mouth shut, you can’t possibly be arrested, accused and charged falsely. Law enforcement will use anything you say or do against you in court. Silence, on the other hand, is not an admission of guilt and cannot be used against you.
“I do not consent to this search” – Don’t Consent to a Police Search. Police officers need your permission to search- that’s the reason they ask. Never consent to give a police officer permission to search your person, your home, or your car. If an officer does search you, don’t resist, but keep repeating “I do not consent to this search.” Law enforcement officers are allowed to pat you down feeling for weapons. They are not, however, allowed to reach inside your pockets to pull out your personal property, nor are you obligated to empty your pockets if asked.
“Am I free to go” – Ask if you’re free to go as soon as the officer asks you a question. If you do not say these words, the officer will believe that you are willingly staying to talk with him. If the officer tells you that you’re being detained or arrested, tell him “I’m going to remain silent.”
Police officers rely on intimidation and fear to get what they want at a traffic stop. By understanding your rights ahead of time, and remaining calm during the incident, you will be able to avoid any unnecessary unpleasant complications.
Further Reading: New DUI Deterrent Technology
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