Five Things To Do If You’re Pulled Over By Police

by Paul on November 13, 2012

Occasionally we can have a run-in with the law and come into contact with a police officer. Sometimes, when behind the wheel, we’ll be aware if we’ve broken the law but sometimes we might not be conscious of breaking any law if we were distracted. Even if we haven’t done anything wrong, we may feel nervous and not represent ourselves as we should really, especially if our licence is at risk. This may illustrate itself in an overtly defensive or even hostile nature. We may not be able to present our side of the story in a very legible way so we come across as unintelligible or untrustworthy. It can be simply how we react to authority when faced with them in reality, or if we feel strongly that we shouldn’t be under scrutiny. This kind of situation can be very daunting to someone who has never had any run-ins with the law. This is assuming that you are not actually guilty of a crime, whereas if you are, the way you conduct yourself may be key to the punishment you receive or the defence you go about pursuing in court later.

So below are a few tips to take on-board if you find yourself being escorted to a police station:

1: Respect the Officer

Police officers may have dealt with several similar cases on that one shift alone, so they will take you as they find you. Many are used to abuse and will react negatively immediately to this or at least prepare themselves for problems. They’ve probably heard every possible strange excuse or story too so don’t disrespect them with a poor lie. Refer to them as ‘officer’ and not by their first name or a colloquial term like ‘mate’ or ‘dude’ in some vain attempt to befriend them. Show that you’re acknowledging their standing above you, even if you are in a respectable job or of a certain social class.

2: Comply

Unless they ask you to do something illegal (which they won’t), comply with everything asked of you so it can’t be turned on you later. If you’re asked to do something, do it, and even ask if the way you’re doing it is correct for clarification purposes. If you can make their job easier, then you’ll be processed quicker. Officers will have had to deal with many troublemakers in their experience, and if they’re under a lot of pressure on this occasion (a particular public holiday or busy period), they’ll be less likely to reason with you and accept any aggression or hostility, lightly. Make their role easier and they’ll give a more preferable account to anyone who deals with you later when their opinion is asked.

3: Keep Hands Visible

Officers have to suspect everyone is capable of hurting them or attempting to hide something so don’t take offence to this. Let them search you, letting them know what you have in your pockets before they search you (they’ll ask if there is anything sharp like needles to protect themselves). If you’ve been caught speeding, for instance, keep hands on the steering wheel and wait to be asked to reach for your licence. If you don’t present a threat to them and they sense that, the officer will be more receptive to you. Officers will look out for you dropping out of sight even momentarily when approaching your car, so remain still and composed in your seat.

4: Wait For Your Legal Counsel

While you should comply, you are well within your rights to wait for your legal counsel to be present  before you answer any questions at the station. Don’t laud it over the officer that you might have access to a superior lawyer either, but simply say ‘I would like to wait for my lawyer to be present before I answer anything’. This is the law; and while it will take longer to proceed until they arrive, it’s important so you don’t misrepresent yourself or say something that might be used against you if this matter goes to trial. A lawyer may have a pre-existing relationship with you or may be appointed; either way, they’ll have insight and experience that you won’t, no matter how many TV dramas you watch.

5: Make It Clear You Want A Resolution

Make it clear throughout that you want to ‘resolve this matter’ (you may wish to use this phrase). This way, you are not admitting any guilt but still are leaving the situation open for your legal representative to come in and find a way to help you. This way you’re also maintain your innocence subtly. It’s ultimately what the police wish to do as well so it demonstrates a common goal you want to reach together; it’s less about them versus you, but both sides working together to solve a miscommunication. By spouting that you want to be ‘let go’ you sound like you’re making demands which doesn’t look good.

Paul has studied Law to a Higher Education, and is currently working with a firm of road traffic specialist solicitors who help those in need of penalty points or driving ban help.

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