Pulled Over By The Police? Never Answer These 12 Questions

Being stopped by the police is never a pleasant situation. Things can quickly escalate to something much more than the initial reason you were pulled over for. To prevent unnecessary drama, it is essential that you know what your rights are in these situations. For instance, did you know that you have the right not to answer certain questions addressed by the police?

Here’s are some examples:

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Past arrests

If you are pulled by police and asked about any prior arrests, you have the right to not answer this question, based on the Fifth Amendment. No one can force you to talk about any of your past arrests (if any).

In case you are inquired by the police on this matter, you can simply say “I choose to remain silent,” or “I am declining to answer”.

Substance use

In case you are addressed the following question: “Have you consumed any alcohol or drugs prior to or while you were driving?”, just know you are not required by the law to deny or confirm anything. Again, using a polite form to not answer the question is your right and cannot be held against you.

However, we do advise that you stay away from driving under influence of any kid, be it alcohol or other substances, as it can be extremely dangerous for you as well as for other fellow drivers.

What you are doing

You have the right to remain silent if the police is asking you “What are you doing?”. To let the police offer know that you also know your rights, you may want to say “I choose to remain silent.” This way, you are not ignoring their question, simply choose not to answer it, as per the Constitution.

On the other hand, in some states, not informing the police what your name is, should they ask such a question, could end up with you behind bars. So, provide your name, but remember, you are not obligated to provide any other type of information.

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Driving fitness

In some instances, when police pull you over, you might be asked if you are experiencing any physical or mental conditions that could affect your driving ability. If you do not want to answer, you can simply say “I’d rather not comment.”

You might not know what they are referring to and say yes. If you admit that there might be something impacting your driving, it might lead to additional tests and things could take a turn for the worse. Of course, if you are experiencing something that can adversely impact your driving, then it’s best to admit it, as it could be live-saving.

Weapons in the vehicle

If you are asked “Do you have any weapons in the car?”, answering with another question might be more effective than saying yes or no. Something on the lines of “Do you have a reason to suspect that, officer?”, will put the police officer’s answer in the spotlight, instead of yours. This will help you from spilling to many details about your vehicle.

Your deflecting answer can be based both on the Fourth Amendment (which protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures) as well as on the Second Amendment (which allows the possession of arms), whichever suits your situations best. If you do own and carry a gun, in compliance with the law, you might be required by state law to admit this to the police officer. This, however, does not mean your car can be searched.

The reason for being pulled over

Oftentimes, police officers ask a very much dreaded question, namely “Do you know why I pulled you over?”. Answering this question can be quite tricky, as your answer might reveal something that the officer has not considered before. Instead of playing a guessing game or confessing to making a mistake that the law enforcement might not have observed in the first place, just say “Officer, could you please explain why I was stopped?”.

This will allow the officer to tell you their reasons as well as showing a positive approach on your behalf, as you are really trying to understand the reason for being pulled over.

Address verification

It is not seldom that drivers are asked about their current address when pulled over by the police. However, informing about your current address might give way to further questions and investigation. You have the right to keep this kind of information to yourself. If you do not want to answer this question about your residence, you can politely say this instead: “I am choosing to remain silent”.

Your nationality and birthplace

Pursuant to the law, you may withhold information regarding your birthplace, citizenship status and even how you entered the country. However, keep in mind that rules might vary in the case of international airports and borders, and not providing the required information might generate other investigations.

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Your presence in a specific area

When addressed the question “What are you doing in this neighborhood?”, you may choose not to disclose your reasons for being in that area. It can be regarded as a discriminatory question, therefore, it is your right to choose not to answer it. You can simply say “I choose to remain silent”.

On the other hand, if the police officer does express a valid and legal reason for asking you about your presence in the area, it might be recommended to answer their question.

Your travel plans

People might not like being questioned about where they are coming from and where they are going. It might make them feel questioned for no reason. If you do not want to answer this question, you are protected by the law to remain silent. Just inform the police officer in question that you would rather not say anything about this matter. Giving more information than needed oftentimes might lead to more sensitive situations. Try to avoid that, while complying with the law, of course.

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Your vehicle’s condition

Queries about the condition or legality of your vehicle, such as “Did you know that window tint is illegal?” should be treated with utmost care. Providing too many information, which seem harmless to you, might cause further questions and searches. A simple and clear “I prefer not to answer” will allow you to keep the situation within personal and legal boundaries, without things degenerating.

Identifying passengers

When pulled over, law enforcement might ask you about the identities or relationships of passengers traveling with you. Questions such as “Who is this person with you?” are often asked about the police.

You should know that you are not obligated to provide such information. You can politely refuse to disclose such details, thus protecting both your rights as well as the rights of passengers in your vehicle. You can politely state that “I am not required to provide that information.”

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According to researchers at the University of Michigan, Virginia Tech University and Stanford University traffic stops which end up with arrest, handcuffing or a search, often happen in the earliest moments: namely after the first 45 words spoken by the police officer—or in the first 27 seconds.

Therefore, traffic stops can be extremely sensitive. It is important to know what to say and what to keep to yourself, as well as how to act so that things remain calm and normal throughout the entire event. Drivers as well as police officers, should all act as per the law and do their best to keep the situation under control.

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