What do I do if the police stop me?
In today’s climate, interacting with the police is intimidating. There is no easy way around those feelings. However, there are some strategies for interacting with them that can help de-escalate and hopefully make sure that you survive your encounter with the police and protect your rights.
You only control you
First, remember, you only control yourself. You have no power over them. If they are treating you badly, trying to escalate the situation, etc., there may be nothing you can do to change that dynamic. As such, your job is simply to not feed into it and do whatever you can to not make the situation worse. That may mean you go to jail, but you can fight on the back end for compensation.
Stay calm and be respectful. Say, “sir” and “ma’am” as appropriate. Do not run, argue or resist in any way. If you feel like you are being treated unfairly or arrested unjustifiably, nothing you say or do now can stop it. Anything you do now, while justified, will not save you. Right now, your goal is your safety. Keep your hands up and visible. Follow the Gold River, California, police officer’s instructions.
Exiting the situation
If you are pulled over, you need to give the police officer your driver’s license, registration information and proof of car insurance. Depending on your state, you may also need to confirm the information on your driver’s license. However, beyond this information, you do not need to engage with the police officer and answer questions.
You can invoke your right to remain silent. Ask if you can leave. If the officer says you can, walk or drive away calmly and safely. If the officer says no, you are being detained or arrested. Ask for an attorney.
Before being arrested, you may simply be detained. This means you cannot leave, but you are not technically under arrest. During this time, you will not be provided a lawyer, but you do not have to engage with the police. And, importantly, you do not have to consent to a search of you, your car or your belongings.
Of course, this does not mean the police will not do it anyway, which is why many opt to begin recording their interactions with the police to prove such unconstitutional interactions for later lawsuits.