From moving violations to equipment problems, there are numerous reasons why traffic stops take place. The Illinois Department of Transportation recently released a study with a breakdown of how many traffic stops take place between people of different races.
All people, particularly immigrants and people whose first language is not English, need to be careful of what they say during a traffic stop. It is not unheard of for people to simply answer "Yes" to a police officer's questions. This can come back to bite the person later in court. Here are some phrases to keep in mind in the event of a future traffic stop.
1. "I don't consent to a search"
The police cannot randomly decide to search a person's car or home. There needs to be sufficient evidence a crime took place or could take place in the future. Even if a driver believes everything would be fine with a police search, it is best to play it safe than sorry. Perhaps a friend left a bag of marijuana in the car. It happens more often than most people realize. Whatever the circumstances, people should not give up their rights that easily. However, if the police have a drug dog on-hand, then they may use it to see if a vehicle requires searching.
2. "Am I free to leave?"
After providing a license and registration, many people wonder if they can leave. Sometimes the police will keep a driver there longer than anticipated. After a while, it is acceptable to ask if it is appropriate to leave. The police need to have something incriminating on the person to deny this. In the event of a "No," the officer then may try to get the driver to self-incriminate.
3. "I want to speak to a lawyer"
When police officers ask drivers a lot of questions, it can become confusing as to what the purpose is. At a certain point, drivers can ask to speak with their lawyers. People have the right to remain silent, and in some circumstances, it can be prudent to exercise that right.