How to Behave When You Are Stopped by the Cops

I am sure that most of the readers of this blog have had the opportunity, at some point in their lives, to come into contact with the people in blue, our City's finest, a police officer working for a local police department. How you handle or conduct yourself during such a contact will probably make a difference in your police experience and how you are treated and dealt with by the police, in return.

Here are a few tips that will make your contact with the police a more pleasant experience. Believe it or not, dealing with the cops is much like dealing with people. Most of these thoughts below are just good, common sense.

The First Three Rules When Interacting with Police

You must always remember and keep in mind that the police have a job to do just like you do.Cops are people too. Treat them the way you would like for them to treat you. Be courteous. No one likes a smart aleck.

Your Rights & Responsibilities When Pulled Over

Be prepared to show your identification.

This includes your driver's license and your insurance card. You need to understand that if you don't have these documents with you, you are considered suspicious by the cops. And cops are looking for a reason to search your car or to learn more about you, what you are doing, what you are possessing, etc. Having these pieces of identification with you at all times when you are operating a motor vehicle will make your experience with any cop go better.

Understand that nighttime behavior appears more suspicious.

“Nothing good happens after midnight.” I used to tell my kids this all the time. You can get away with driving offenses at 2 pm in the afternoon that you can't get away with at 1 am in the morning. Cops hate night people. After midnight, or even after 10 pm or so, cops are looking for a reason to learn more about you, a driver out at that time of night. The cops want a reason to search you and your car. So, if you are out late at night, you need to be more careful than the average daytime driver.

The cops may not have the right to search your car.

If you are the subject of a traffic stop and nothing else, cops, as a general rule, don't have the right to search you or your car, unless your behavior and conduct gives them a good reason to do so. So, if you haven't been drinking, if you haven't been using drugs, (i.e., smoking weed), if you aren't looking suspicious, and you don't have a warrant—in other words, if you are just an average Joe out driving and you get stopped by the cops, don't consent to a search of your car. If asked by a cop for permission to search your car, remember: cops want a reason to get into your car and learn more about you. Cops are trained to ask people something like this:

"Do you have anything in your car I should know about? Do you have any drugs or contraband in your car?

If and when you say no, the cop will say something like:

"Well then, you don't mind if I search your car, do you?"

Cops have been trained to make this type of inquiry because they have been taught that this is an easy way to get information about a stopped person and to get into your car to learn more. They are trained that most people will consent, because they are nervous, uncomfortable, and they don't know how to react.

So again, my opinion: if you are just an average Joe out driving without anything suspicious about you, you don't have to consent to a search of your car or your person.

Keep guns out of sight in your car.

Guns make cops whig out. I understand that in Missouri and many other states, you can carry a gun. But let me tell you that it isn't a good idea for you to keep it out on your seat or somewhere in plain view in your car when you are driving. The minute a cop sees a gun, the cop will go on high alert and you are probably most assured of having an unpleasant experience with that cop.

If You Need Legal Help

I hope that these tips will make your experience a more pleasant one, should you ever be stopped by the cops. In the event that you do run into any legal trouble after being pulled over in or near Raytown, Missouri, know that the Michael W. Hanna Law Office is just a phone call away.


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