During a traffic stop, fear of getting a ticket or arrest can make people nervous or anxious. Under these circumstances, people might say things they later regret. You can avoid this by refraining from making certain comments to the police.
“Sure, you can search my car.”
People often consent to a search of their car because they think they have nothing to hide. However, giving police officers permission to search your vehicle is unnecessary – and it can lead to serious criminal charges if the police happen to find something they think is suspicious.
However, police can search your car without a warrant if:
- They see something suspicious in your windows
- They have reasonable and probable grounds to suspect there is something illegal in your car
- They believe there is evidence of a crime in your vehicle that you could destroy or remove
Barring these scenarios, you have the right to politely but firmly deny a warrantless vehicle search.
“I just had a drink with dinner.”
You might have “only” had one drink before driving or had drinks with dinner hours ago, which may seem harmless. But offering this information to the police during a traffic stop is all it takes to raise their suspicions that you may be impaired, and it can provide evidence that you drank and then drove.
You should never lie to officers, but you do not have to admit to drinking if they ask you. You can instead state that you do not wish to answer any questions.
“Don’t you have anything better to do?”
Antagonizing a police officer is an easy way to escalate the situation and make the interaction turn negative. Saying things like, “Shouldn’t you be stopping real criminals?” or calling them names and insulting them can instantly make the officer less willing to be lenient with you.
You do not have to grovel, but being calm and respectful can go a long way in preventing the escalation of a traffic stop.
You can talk to a lawyer if you say the wrong thing
No one is perfect; we all make mistakes and do or say things we shouldn’t. If this happens to you during a traffic stop that leads to drunk driving charges or other allegations, know that you have the right to consult a lawyer. Doing so can protect your rights and help you make informed decisions in the future.