Driving can be stressful, particularly in busy or unfamiliar areas. Nobody enjoys seeing a police car nearby, particularly when they are behind with a flashing light and signaling for the driver to stop.
People get pulled over by the police for a multitude of reasons, including speeding, vehicle defects, and random checks. Whether a driver thinks they are in the right or the wrong, and whatever the reason for being stopped, there are definitely ways to handle the situation better than others. Saying and doing the smart thing can make a world of difference. This article looks at some things people should never, ever say to a police officer when they’re pulled over.
1. Admitting You Know Why They Pulled You Over
It’s standard for a police officer to open by asking someone if they know why they’ve been pulled over. Answering “yes” can be taken as an admission of guilt and used in any case against the driver. It also makes it difficult to appeal any tickets or legal decisions.
2. Arguing About Being Stopped
Arguing with a police officer will rarely have a favorable outcome; indeed, it may make them less lenient and become harsher when it comes to the rule book. While drivers shouldn’t unquestioningly accept anything a police officer says (see above point), they shouldn’t step into argument mode. Saying as little as possible is often the best move.
3. Asking Why They Pulled You Over
Although drivers are perfectly entitled to know why the cops have pulled them over, it’s for the officer to (hopefully) politely explain their actions. Starting a conversation with a defensive tone can set the scene for the whole interaction, potentially creating tension and making everything worse.
4. Talking Too Much
While many people tend to over-talk when nervous, talking too much and acting too jumpy may raise red flags for an officer. For example, it could lead to a full vehicle search when all they originally wanted to do was perform a random quick stop.
5. Making Fun of the Situation
Cracking jokes and trying to be best buddies with the police officer may appear as though a driver isn’t taking the situation seriously and sees themselves as above the law—which can be particularly damaging if they were violating the laws of the road. Staying cool is a better course of action.
6. Being Rude to the Officer
No matter the demeanor of the police officer, drivers and passengers should avoid reacting in a similar tone. Insulting a police officer will never endear them to a person or turn out well. Remember: It’s a lot easier to make a complaint after the event than to calm everything down after stoking flames.
7. Saying You Pay Their Wages
Linked to the previous point, pointing out that taxpayers pay police wages isn’t helpful when someone is pulled over. Officers know the public purse covers their salaries. And, so what?! They’re doing what they’re paid to do—police.
8. Telling Them You Have Connections
Whether someone knows the local sheriff, mayor, senator, or any other person perceived to be in a position of authority or power, pointing that out to a police officer sounds obnoxious and as though the individual is trying to threaten, coerce, or look down on the policeman or woman. If it’s true and the driver truly is well-connected, it could also embarrass the person they mention and ruin relationships.
9. Inviting Them to Search You or Your Vehicle
Unless they have reasonable due reason, police officers must have consent to search a vehicle or perform a frisk. Drivers are allowed to say no and, in many cases, a search can’t continue. However, offering it on a plate removes any right to appeal the search later.
10. Asking Them Why They Aren’t Catching “Real” Criminals
Many road users think the police should spend their time going after murderers, thieves, and rapists rather than someone who’s going a few miles over the speed limit or who’s not belted up. But, police officers work in different sections and perform various functions. Such questions can seem hostile and heighten tension.
11. Bending the Facts
Lying when pulled over can make a bad situation worse, and untruths can come out in court, ruining any case a driver may otherwise have had. Although people don’t have to volunteer information or answer certain questions, it’s far better to remain tight-lipped than to be dishonest.
12. Anything After Arrest
If a person is arrested after being pulled over, they should stop saying anything as soon as they’ve been read their rights. Other than asking for a lawyer, this is a time when silence really is golden.
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Andrew Herrig is a finance expert and money nerd and the founder of Wealthy Nickel, where he writes about personal finance, side hustles, and entrepreneurship. As an avid real estate investor and owner of multiple businesses, he has a passion for helping others build wealth and shares his own family’s journey on his blog.
Andrew holds a Masters of Science in Economics from the University of Texas at Dallas and a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University. He has worked as a financial analyst and accountant in many aspects of the financial world.
Andrew’s expert financial advice has been featured on CNBC, Entrepreneur, Fox News, GOBankingRates, MSN, and more.