Do’s and Don’ts during a Police Officer Stop

iStock_000020746027_ExtraSmall.jpgA common problem we hear during consultations is that once a police officer stops and questions a client while driving, he or she does not know how to respond to the officer. Usually the police will ask them a question, then add, “Don’t lie to me. If you lie to me you will face more charges.” While this may be a scary police tactic, the police officer is telling the truth in this regard. Lying to a police officer could be a crime and the officer may detain and charge you for it. Instead of lying, the better approach is to tell the officer that you do not wish to answer any questions and that you would like to leave.

When a police officer stops and questions you while you are in a vehicle, remember “RID” (Registration, Insurance Card and Driver’s license), If the questions he asks you are found on the three documents you are required to provide to the police when you are stopped, “RID” (Registration, Insurance Card and Driver’s license), then answer the officer’s question. If the information is not contained on one of these three sources, then politely refuse and ask if you are free to leave. There is only one exception to this rule, which is that you must voluntarily tell an officer that you have a concealed handgun license/gun.

Often times, Police Officers do not stop there. Some may respect your requests, others will continue to ask you questions. They are aware that you are in the presence of an authority figure, which presents a significant and unique type of psychological presence. It is natural to feel the need to respond in this type of environment. This desire and urge is present even if the answer will hurt the person answering the question. A police officer creates a stressful environment that compels you to answer questions, especially when he is in full uniform, armed with a gun and other equipment on his person, when you cannot move because you have been pulled over by a police car, and his police lights are right behind you.

Surviving a police encounter and coming out of it without a criminal record is simple as long as you politely refuse to answer any of his questions. This assumes that you do not have a warrant for your arrest and that you are not committing a crime in plain view. With this aside, remember the “RID,” (Registration, Insurance Card and Driver’s license) if you answer any other questions you could give the officer a basis to search your vehicle or even arrest you. It is more prudent to stop the questioning before it even starts; it is much more difficult to stop a conversation in the middle than in the beginning.

“RID” (Registration, Insurance Card and Driver’s license) are all the law requires you to give to a police officer. Consider it like this… If an officer comes to your car window after stopping you and asks, “Is this your car?” You are safe to say “yes” or “no, it’s my friends, I’m borrowing it.” Both of those answers can be found on the vehicle registration card. If the officer says, “What’s your address?” Give it to him. Even if your current address is not on your driver’s license, your address is listed on your driver’s license. If the officer then asks, “Where are you coming from?” Here it is perfectly acceptable for you to say, “Officer, I don’t want to answer any questions. Am I free to go?” If the information the officer is asking you is not contained on any of the three documents – “RID” (Registration, Insurance Card and Driver’s license) he has asked for. Be polite, but don’t provide him the information he is seeking. Providing him with the information found on these three documents may be the difference between continuing your day normally or sitting in the back of a police car. So remember the “RID” (Registration, Insurance Card and Driver’s license) and you will stand a better chance when a police officer stops you.

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Gilbert Garcia has been Passionately Pursuing Justice for over 30 years and founded The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm in 2008. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is a boutique law firm, specializing in Criminal Defense. Gilbert represents adults and juveniles accused of a crime and who have with a felony, misdemeanor or record cleaning case. Conveniently located on the courthouse square to serve Montgomery and Walker Counties. Gilbert became Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1989. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is located at 220 N. Thompson St., Suite 202, Conroe, TX 77301.  www.ggglawfirm.com.

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