*Sigh* It’s Sunday…stupid calendar…at any rate, here’s Saturday’s Question:
If I get pulled over what are my rights as a driver? Do I have to let a cop search my car? What about admitting vs not admitting the violation?
Excellent question, Kevin. Thanks…
This is a bit of a two part question. First, do you have to let a cop search your car. It’s not as easy as all that. We may ask for your consent. As a matter of course, I always ask for consent. It’s easier to articulate in a report that the subject gave consent to search. You have every right to say, “No”; however, be aware that we may already have developed PC (probable cause) to search without it. For example, I smell marijuana or I see something in plain sight (drugs, weapons, burg tools, etc) that now gives me the right to pull you out and search your car.
I’ve asked for consent before and gotten the negative response. At that point, I’ve already established my PC and I say, “Okay, I was just being polite. Get out of the car.” So, no. Technically, you do not have to let a cop search your car. You’d be amazed how many people let us, though. They could have a body in the trunk and an ounce of crank in their pocket and they’ll still say, “Sure, Officer. Go right on ahead.” Job security, brother.
The second part…admitting vs. not admitting the violation. Honestly, I could not care less either way. I’ve already witnessed the violation. I know you did it. You know you did it. Just take responsibility already. I always make my notes on my copy of the citation contemporaneously with the stop. That way, my recollection is fresh and if/when I testify to it six months later, I can remember what happened. That means I document whatever statements you make (that are pertinent to the violation…your accusatory “You’re an asshole” statement is not germane). If you say nothing, I write nothing and that just makes my testimony shorter. So long as I prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt to the judge, which is more often than not the case, your statements don’t really matter.
Do yourself a favor, though. If you make a statement during the stop to the effect of “Yeah, I did it”, don’t bother going to court. Save us both some time. Or go on my day off….I could use the cash.
I am much more likely to give a break to someone who admits what they did wrong. It means they realize what they did and will most likely go a bit of a while before they do it again.