The best advice to prevent being involved in a traffic stop drug bust is to avoid being pulled over in the first place with drugs on you. If you do find yourself in a traffic stop drug bust, stay calm, and remember these simple rules:
- Never try to run or escape
As soon as you see the blue and red lights come on, you should pull over as soon as possible, remaining inside your car at all times. You should pull over in a way that will be most likely to calm down an angry or annoyed traffic officer, using your turn signal to indicate any lane changes from left to right, and slowing down fairly quickly. Pull over as far to the right as possible so that, when the officer comes up to your widow, he or she won’t have to worry about being clipped by vehicles in the right lane.
You should never give the officer a reason to charge you with evading arrest. Many times an arresting officer may simply pull you over for a traffic violation, and after you are issued a ticket, allow you to leave without further questioning. You may want to return to that area later to make sure the officer was telling the truth about how he or she judged your speed, saw your turn, or witnessed any other violation.
- Right after you stop
In order to gain favor with officer, you should show him or her a few other token courtesies. To allay any preemptive fears an officer may have, start by completely turning off the engine, rolling down your window all the way, placing your hands on the steering wheel, and, if it’s dark, turning on your interior light.
Wait for the officer to give you directions. Never begin rummaging through your back pocket for your wallet and license, or searching through your glove compartment for your registration. You should also avoid keeping your hands in your pockets or reaching under the seat. This is probably the quickest way to get searched because, for all the officer knows, you could be reaching for a gun. The officer may use safety as an excuse to search you if he or she believes you are harboring drugs or involved in other illegal activities.
This is the number one reason that police list as their justification for conducting a search without seeing or smelling drugs. The police will report that you made a “furtive movement and he was worried you might have a weapon.” Unless there is a video, it is your word against the officer. 9.5 times out of 10, a prosecutor, judge, or jury will believe the officer over the accused.
- Be polite to the officer
If you speak properly to an officer and show respect, then you have a much better chance of him or her not suspecting that you are engaged in illegal activities. Don’t speak first, especially starting off the conversation in a defensive or hostile manner. The officer will probably ask to see your license and vehicle registration. Don’t insist that the officer immediately tell you why you were stopped. Simply reply “okay” or “sure,” then hand over the documents. Being polite and courteous; however, this does not mean divulging all the contents of your car or person when asked. Chances are that if you never tell him there is a pound of marijuana in the trunk, he will never have an excuse to look for it.
While in police training, traffic cops learn to decide, before leaving their vehicle, whether they’re going to give a ticket or just a warning. Some may act as though they still haven’t made up their minds and are going to let you off only if you’ll cooperate, like consenting to a search. The hesitating officer may be trying to appear open-minded in order to extract admissions out of you, to use them against you in court if necessary. Don’t fall for this.
- Deny permission to search you or your car
If police ask to search you, your car, or other property, it means that they do not have a legal right to search. You never assume that if you say yes the officer will just think you don’t have anything to hide and leave you alone. If you say yes to a search, then you are giving the officer “consent” and that is all he needs for a legal search. More often than not, giving your consent to search will end in the officer immediately and thoroughly searching your car, finding the hidden drugs, and hauling you off to jail.
Even if the police threaten to get a drug dog or a warrant, always tell them “no” to a search. If you do so, there is a pretty good chance that by the time the drug dog gets there or for a judge to sign a warrant, you will have been detained for an unreasonable amount of time—longer than the law allows, violating your rights. In this case, the drugs found will be immediately thrown out by a judge at trial as evidence, resulting in you winning your case.
- Do not admit to ANYTHING.
You have heard it before in countless police dramas: your right to remain silent. Use this advice. The corollary of Miranda warnings is that the prosecution cannot use a suspect’s silence as evidence of guilt in a court of law—otherwise the warnings would be meaningless. The arresting police officer may act like your buddy, but he or she is never going to like you so much that they throw away the drugs and let you go.
Usually, police will try to sympathize with your situation, or try to get you to admit guilt by pretending that it’s “no big deal.” On the contrary, this is a huge deal! All the arresting officer is trying to do is get you to admit guilt and build a case against you by letting him find the drugs.
Even if drugs are found, admitting they are yours does not help your case. Even if drugs are found in your car the burden is still on the police to forge an “affirmatively link” to you.
- Hire a good lawyer
If your traffic stop results in the drugs being found and your eventual arrest, at this point, there is absolutely nothing that you can do or say that will make the cop change his mind. The only thing left to do, and perhaps the most important thing, is to hire a good lawyer. You should do this immediately, as soon as you bond out of jail. Start by setting up some appointments with lawyers who will quote you a reasonable fee, and also one that is experienced in defending drug cases.
This is incredibly important and could affect your entire life. If you have been involved in a traffic stop drug bust, and your future is at stake, we hope you will give yourself the best fighting chance and contact us. Call Stockmann Law at (844) 545-3022!