The police pull over more than 50,000 drivers on a typical day, as many as 20 million motorists every year. The most common offences are speeding; distracted driving, which could be texting, emailing, or eating at the wheel; equipment violations such as illegally tinted windows, broken windshields, or expired license plate tags; and tailgating or improper lane changes.
Even if you follow all the rules, you may still get pulled over at the most common police interaction…the traffic stop. So is there a procedure you should follow when the police wave you down? That’s what we’ll find out, in this episode of The Infographics Show: What You Should Do If You Get Stopped By The Police?
We rely on the police to keep us safe and treat us all fairly, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, or religion. Understanding how to interact with the police and knowing your rights, is vital for ensuring things run as smoothly as possible, when the police do stop you. You might be stopped in your car, you could be questioned in a public place, or the police could even come to your home one day, if investigating a crime. The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”
Let’s see what they can they tell us. But before we look at what you should do in different scenarios, let’s first look at the rights Americans have when interacting with the police. 1. You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud. 2. You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car or your home. 3. If you are not under arrest, you have the right to calmly leave. 4. You have the right to a lawyer if you are arrested. Ask for one immediately. and 5. Regardless of your immigration or citizenship status, you have constitutional rights.
Now let’s look at the different scenarios. If the police flash you down in your car, stop the car in a safe place as quickly as possible. Turn off the engine, turn on the internal light, open the window part way and place your hands on the wheel, and wait for the policeman to come to you. If you’re asked to give your name, you should provide it. If you’re asked for your drivers license, registration and proof of insurance, you should provide it.
You should say nothing more to the police other than asking whether or not you are free to leave. If a police officer asks to look inside your car, you can refuse to consent to the search. But if police believe your car contains evidence of a crime, your car can be searched without your consent. And as we mentioned with your rights, both the driver and passengers have the right to remain silent. If you are a passenger, you can ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, sit silently or calmly leave. Even if the officer says no, you still have the right to remain silent.
What about if the police stop you in public for questioning? Here’s what the ACLU says.
1. Stay calm. Don’t run. Don’t argue, resist or obstruct the police, even if you are innocent or police are violating your rights. Keep your hands where police can see them.
2. Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, calmly and silently walk away. If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why.
3. You have the right to remain silent and cannot be punished for refusing to answer questions. If you wish to remain silent, tell the officer out loud. In some states, you must give your name if asked to identify yourself.
4. You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, but police may pat down your clothing if they suspect a weapon. You should not physically resist, but you do have the right to refuse consent for any further search. If you do consent, it can affect you later in court.
If the police come to your home, you do not have to let them in unless they have certain kinds of warrants. Ask the officer to slip the warrant under the door or hold it up to the window so you can inspect it. A search warrant allows police to enter the address listed on the warrant, but officers can only search the specific areas, and for the specific items, listed. An arrest warrant allows police to enter the home of the person listed on the warrant if they believe the person is inside. A warrant of removal or deportation does not allow officers to enter a home without consent. Even if officers have a warrant, you have the right to remain silent. If you choose to speak to the officers, step outside and close the door.
So we’ve looked at being stopped in your car, on the street, and what to do if the police come to your home. Well, what if you find yourself on the wrong side of the law and are arrested? What are the do’s and don’ts in that situation? According to the ACLU, you should abide by the following:
1. Do not resist arrest, even if you believe the arrest is unfair.
2. Say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately. Do not give any explanations or excuses. If you can’t pay for a lawyer, you have the right to a free one. Do not say anything, sign anything, or make any decisions without a lawyer.
3. You have the right to make a local phone call. The police cannot listen if you call a lawyer.
4. Prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested. Memorize the phone numbers of your family and your lawyer. Make emergency plans if you have children or take medication. If you’re a non-citizen, there are also some special considerations to take into account. You should ask your lawyer about the effect of a criminal conviction or plea on your immigration status. Don’t discuss your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer. While you are in jail, an immigration agent may visit you. Do not answer questions or sign anything before talking to a lawyer. Read all papers fully. If you do not understand or cannot read the papers, explain to the officer that you need an interpreter.
That covers most of the situations where you could be stopped or ever detained by the police. Of course the best thing is to stay out of trouble, but then all of us at some point will come in to contact with law enforcement, so it’s always good to know your rights and understand how to behave. Have you been pulled over or stopped by the police, and if so what was your experience like? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video called American Cops vs British Cops! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!