3 Things to Avoid Saying at a Traffic Stop
Most people get stopped by police officers at some point or another in their lives. Which can lead to a big mistake: being complacent about police stops.
It’s important to remember that every police stop is an encounter with law enforcement that could lead either to a very expensive speeding ticket, or to an arrest. You have to walk the line between meeting your legal obligations and protecting your legal rights.
Which means there are three phrases you should never say.
“I guess you stopped me for speeding?”
When officers pull you over they usually ask: “Do you know why I pulled you over today?”
This is not a rhetorical question. It is an investigative one. It’s meant to get you to admit to guilt of some kind, or to say something incriminating.
Your best bet is to say, “No, officer.” And then to be quiet. Produce your license, registration, and insurance information as required. Do not volunteer any other information.
“I’m not drunk, I just had a little Benadryl.”
You may not be drunk, but Benadryl isn’t any better.
New York law prohibits you from driving if you are impaired by any drug. It doesn’t matter if the drug is legal or illegal. It doesn’t matter if it’s a prescription drug or an OTC. If it impairs you, you can be charged with a DUI.
This is rough, because it’s hard to know which medications will increase your risk. It’s hard to know how certain substances interact. These uncertainties can factor into your defense, but you don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot by listing off the drugs you’ve taken recently.
People say this because they think it will prevent an arrest. It’s more likely to cause one. Your words will, in turn, be used against you should the case go to court.
“You’re welcome to search my car. I have nothing to hide.”
There is no reason why you’d ever want to give a police officer permission to search the car.
You may not think there’s incriminating evidence there. The officer who finds your prescription pill bottle under the seat might feel otherwise. So might a jury.
In addition, there have been cases where cops have used a search to plant evidence so that they could make a case against someone who’d merely rubbed them the wrong way during the traffic stop.
It’s always better to withhold your consent. Make the cops get a warrant. There’s a chance the judge will not agree with them. There’s also a chance they will violate your Constitutional rights by searching the car anyway, at which point you’ll have a strong defense against any charges.
Remember, if you get arrested…
Invoke your 5th Amendment rights and ask for an attorney. Don’t answer any questions and remain silent. Law enforcement’s case may not be as strong as they think it is. An experienced Orange County, NY attorney can help you defeat their allegations and get on with your life.