police stop in the District of Columbia

Ada Chan Resources - 4th Amendment

Police stopping you in DC

How to deal with police stopping you in the District of Columbia


I have sure you have seen it on TV or heard it a million times: “you have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say can and will be used against you….”  Yet, people still give up their rights.  In a routine traffic stop, the police stopped you for running a red light.   The officer will ask you some basic questions now – these answers are not protected under Miranda because you are not under arrest.     Remember there is a huge difference between an arrest and a brief stop.

Have you been drinking?

Have you use illegal drugs?

Where are you coming from?

Its not easy to answer these questions.  This video is probably one of the best videos on how to properly handle a police stop.    Be polite – dont be aggressive.  Try your best not to be a smart ass.

Can I search your car?

Next, you are then asked if they could search your vehicle.  In the trunk, they find weed.  You are then placed under arrest for Possession of Controlled Substance.  This scenario happens over and over again.  Admittedly, it is intimidating to get pulled over.  I am sure you would like to know why you were stopped by the police and hopefully be sent on your way soon.  But often times, police use a variety of tactics to get you to give up your rights.  Say no to the following:

Can I search your vehicle?

I see your backpack in the backseat, can I take a look?

Do you mind if I take a quick look at your trunk?

Can you stop out of the vehicle and perform the field sobriety test?

What’s in that glove compartment? Can you open it?

When you are stopped by the police for minor traffic offenses, you should be free to go once the traffic stop is concluded.  However, it doesn’t always happen this way in real life.  Police often try to get you to consent to search you or your vehicle.  Don’t give into that.  Ask if you are free to go.  Don’t answer any questions.  “Did you have anything to drink this evening? How many?”  You don’t have to answer those questions.  When there is no probable cause, the police is trying to see if you have committed any crimes.  Don’t talk your way into a jail cell.