Fourth of July is one of the busiest days of the year for families, friends, and police. It’s hot, and people are out in the hot sun, driving in their cars, motoring boats around the lake, all while drinking booze and blowing up things. It’s a real easy day to draw attention to yourself, do something stupid, or break the law. Today is a day to be EXTRA vigilant about how much you’ve had to drink before taking the wheel, or how you react to someone’s physical aggression or words. It’s also a really good day to not be in possession of ANYTHING illegal, as the threshold for pulling you over in a vehicle, or even inspecting your boat, is very low. But everyone make mistakes. Maybe you’ve been pulled over after a few beers. Perhaps you find yourself in the back of a squad after defending the honor of your girlfriend against a miscreant pervert with busy hands. Maybe your drunk, abusive boyfriend finally got what was coming to him, and someone called the cops. Here are a few tips on how to at least make the best out of a bad situation.
1. You have the right to remain silent. This is one of the most important rights you have, and it puts you in the greatest control, even if held captive by authorities. I have yet to hear of a situation where someone has talked themselves out of being arrested or charged with a crime. You may think your explanation gets you off the hook. That’s because you’re speaking from a perspective of common sense. Unfortunately, the law has drifted afar of common sense in some areas, and what you believe to be the truth that will set you free is more likely to be an admissible statement in court that gets you convicted of a crime. Many times have I heard from a client “the officer didn’t read me my rights, so my case should be dismissed, right?” Wrong. If you have not been arrested, if you have not been detained in a squad car, and and officer is asking you questions, he’s waiting for you to say the thing that gives him the authority to arrest you, and will be used against you in court. The moment an officer begins asking you questions, be extremely polite and courteous, and refuse to speak with him. The officer may make promises, may make veiled threats, whatever he does, do not answer factual questions. Do not think that being “open” and “honest” with the officer will cause him to somehow respect you enough to let you go. It won’t. Ever.
2. DO NOT LIE to the officer, especially about your name and birth date (which is a crime unto itself). Simply decline to speak with him.
3. Obey physical commands. If an officer gives you physical commands, obey those commands for your own safety, and to avoid the possibility of being charged with resisting arrest or obstruction. DO NOT SPEAK to the officer. Nothing good will come of you in any way resisting an officer, and you will lose any attempt to flee or physically overpower an officer.
4. How much have you had to drink? You get pulled over, and you answer with “two beers.” That’s how most DWI’s start. What you don’t realize is that your admission drinking anything, combined with the trifecta of watery eyes, slurred speech, and a smell of alcohol, which is nearly impossible to disprove in court, will likely expand the stop to you getting tested and arrested anyway. Do not make any admissions to drinking.
5. Do not try to silence other witnesses. While the exercise of your right to remain silent cannot be used against you, an effort to keep others silent may be used against you, and, in some cases, can constitute a separate crime. Understand, you can only control what you say, not what others say. At some point in the process, you are going to have the opportunity to contact an attorney. If you are arrested, make it known several times to the officer that you wish to speak with your lawyer, and you need a phone. If at any point you find yourself in trouble with the law, and have access to a phone, do not hesitate to contact our office. 651-300-2LAW (2529).