The average life expectancy in the US is nearly 79 years. The average Texas driver gets their driver's license when they turn 16 years old. That results in the average Texan driving the road for over 60 years. Let’s face it if you drive long enough you will be involved in a police stop.
Whether it results in a traffic ticket, DWI, or other criminal allegation, it is important that you do certain things to protect your rights and put you in the best position to fight any erroneous charges brought against you. Here are a few things to keep in mind the next time you are pulled by the police.
Pull Over Promptly and Safely
You should be aware that once a police officer decides to initiate a stop of your vehicle, everything that you do is under scrutiny. Officers will routinely testify in court about how such mundane things as the length of time it took you to pull over or how the location on the road where you ended up pulling over increased their reasonable suspicion or probable cause to arrest you. While it is reasonable for you to be nervous, the best thing you can do when an officer turns on his lights is to promptly find a safe place to pull over. And remember to use that blinker!
Be Police and Courteous – Don’t be Memorable
The reality of the court system in Texas is that it can take a very long time for cases to be filed and even longer for a case to make it to trial. The other reality is that your police officer will make hundreds, if not thousands, of police stops between the time he stops your vehicle and the time he testifies in court about your stop. The less specific details the officer recalls about your stop, the less powerful and credible his or her testimony will be. This is true even now when most (but not all) police officers have body cams activated as soon as they come into contact with you – the camera doesn’t pick up everything. What will help an officer remember one stop better than another? You can bet the officer will remember every detail of an interaction with a rude and verbally abusive driver. And also remember you want to make a good impression with any judge or jury who is watching those videos down the road. So be polite!
Always, Yes Always, Say No to a Request to Search Your Vehicle
If a random person came up to you and asked to go through your purse or backpack, you would say no right? So why should a request by the police to search your car be any different? You have an expectation of privacy in your personal possessions and that does not change just because the police have stopped your vehicle and suspect you of a crime. If the police want to search your car then you should require them to follow the proper protocol and warrant requirements. Simply put, if you have something illegal in your car why are you going to make it easier for them to find? On the other hand, if you do not have something illegal in your car then why are you going to allow them to rifle through your personal belongings for no reason? Just say No!
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