Police Stop

If You Are Stopped Or Approached By Law Enforcement (Non-DWI)*

Your Rights

You have the right to remain silent.  If you wish to exercise that right, say so OUT LOUD.  “Officer, I wish to remain silent.”

ABSENT ANY SEARCH WARRANTS, you have the right to refuse to CONSENT to a search of yourself, your car or your home.  If the officers say that they can search under the circumstances without a warrant, DO NOT SAY ANYTHING.  That leaves the burden on them to either justify a warrantless search in court, take the time to obtain a warrant, or let you go without searching.

If you are not under arrest or being investigated, you have the right to CALMLY leave.  “Officer, if I am not under arrest or being investigated, I would like to leave.”  Again, this leaves the burden on the officer to justify keeping you there, although this might not get sorted out until you go to court.  DO NOT RUN OR RESIST.  Doing so changes the whole picture.

Your Responsibilities


Stay calm and be polite.  You may be AMAZED how well you might be treated if you are polite and respectful.  Problems usually start when either your adrenaline or that of the officer gets pumping.

Do not interfere with or obstruct the police.  Do not threaten the police.  If they tell you to back up, move forward, stand still, or sit down, do so.

If you do answer a question, do not lie or give false documents in response to the question.  But remember, officers DO NOT have to be honest with you to get you to talk. 

As soon as you can, write a detailed account of the event and your encounter with the officers.  Write it for your future lawyer.  Put “Notes for My Lawyer” at the top of the page.  (That may help to protect the information.)

*Being stopped for Impaired driving requires some additional and/or different rules.  See: DWI Stop.

 As with any legal matter, there are always exceptions.  However, every attempt has been made to accurately summarize your rights and
responsibilities regarding law enforcement.

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