When you get stopped by the police, it’s human nature to want to explain yourself. You may pass over the information the officer asks for, like your identification and insurance, and then start chatting to try to explain away something you think the officer has seen or smelled in your vehicle.
Before you get yourself in trouble, remember that you have no obligation to tell the police anything about you other than the basics for identification purposes. They may ask you where you’re going, what you’re doing, to see something in your vehicle or if you’ve been drinking, but you don’t have to answer.
Here are three things that you should not do if you’re stopped by the police.
1. Don’t ask why you were stopped
It’s a good rule of thumb to allow the officer to lead the conversation and only to respond when you absolutely must. If you’ve been stopped, don’t start off the conversation with, “I know why you stopped me,” “I’m sorry,” or “Why did you stop me?” Instead, allow the officer to approach and ask you if you know why. You might be surprised to find out that you were stopped for something minor, like a taillight being out, or something that puts you in danger, such as smoke coming from your vehicle. Let the officer tell you why they stopped you instead of assuming.
2. Don’t allow them to search you or your vehicle voluntarily
It’s not a good idea to allow the officer to search you or your vehicle voluntarily. Don’t say, “Search if you want,” or “I don’t have anything to hide, so do what you want.” The reality is that you have rights, and officers usually don’t have a right to search you or your vehicle during a traffic stop without a good reason.
3. Don’t give the officer a reason to arrest you
Finally, don’t give the officer a reason to arrest you. Don’t admit to drinking or make jokes that may offend the officer. It’s in your best interests to stay silent so that you can protect yourself and avoid saying something incriminating.
These three reminders may help you avoid getting arrested. If you are, ask to have your Miranda rights read to you and then seek to speak with your attorney.