Part 4 What To Do During A Traffic Stop

G. Comply. If you plan on fighting your ticket, keep answers short, don’t directly admit wrongdoing, and always comply, despite the situation. Everything you say to an officer is admissible in court, so if you plan on fighting your ticket, The Chief suggests not saying anything that indicates you are guilty. Officers will typically ask questions to get some sort of admission out of you when they first walk up to your window. Keep in mind that some officers can appear to be very aggressive with his/her tone, try not to take their behavior personally should this transpire. 

G1. If you feel disrespected by the officer or feel that the officer violated your rights, you may go to the station the next day with a parent or guardian and make an incident report. Remember the officer’s information will be on the ticket and all officers are required to have a badge that has their number.

G2. Try to install some kind of camera in your car so that you will be able to comply with the officer’s order without having to use your cellphone for recording. If the officer asks for your cellphone or id, you must comply.

G3. If the officer asks to search your car, you have the right to say no. Saying no doesn’t mean the officer still can’t search your vehicle. However, should the officer search without having “probable cause”, it will be thrown out in court and consider an illegal search. You may tell the officer no, I do not give consent to search my car. Should the officer decide to search without permission, you must comply and allow the search.  

G4. The officer can search the trunk of your car without a search warrant:

  • In general, trunks may be searched under the motor vehicle exception.   These are the common grounds for warrantless vehicle searches which could include the trunk based on the totality of the circumstance. 
  • Consent searches (blanket search allowed, person can retract consent at any time unless probable cause has been established)
  • Exigent circumstances
  • Protective vehicle searches (i.e., Terry frisk of vehicle; protective sweep) see Terry vs. Ohio
  • Search incident to arrest (Gant dependent)  see Arizona v. Gant(2009)
  • Motor vehicle exception (i.e., probable cause exception; mobile conveyance exception) see Katz (2015)
  • Inventory searches