Today’s question was submitted by Kevin. He asks:
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?
Thank you for the question, Kevin. I’m sure there are a number of folks wondering the same thing. Your first question seems quite broad so I’ll try and answer as best I can. Technically, you are being detained…even for a minor infraction. You’re best bet is to do as instructed. If I tell you to stay put, stay put. If I tell you to get out of the car, get out of the car. You are required to provide me with your CDL, registration, and insurance. Other than that, you don’t really have to say much of anything.
Do you have to let an Officer search your car? Nope. That’s not to say we won’t. Probably about 99% of the cars and/or persons I ask to search, I’ve already developed some probable cause to search them. As any lawyer (cool your jets, NSDA) will tell you, if you can get consent, get it. I always articulate consent, probable cause, and combination of the two in my report. You can tell me to go fuck myself, but if I have probable cause, it doesn’t matter if you want me to search or not. Of course, if you do tell me that, be prepared to come back to one messy car.
As far as admitting the violation or not goes, I honestly could not care less. Your statement or lack thereof will be noted on my copy of the cite should I need to refer to it in the future. I don’t stop folks that I am not 100% sure have committed a violation. I won’t go to court on a guess. I’m not in for looking like a jackass in court. To be fair, though, your admitting the violation (within limits) significantly increases your chance of a warning….coupled with attitude, of course. I say within limits because if you’re driving 75 in a 30, you can bet you’ll get a ticket regardless of your honesty.
Thanks again, Kevin. I hope that cleared things up a bit for you!
Alright (literary license), we’re down to two more Saturdays worth of questions…if you’re enjoying this particular feature, shoot me some more!