PDA

View Full Version : Traffic stop protocol question


alpha_romeo_XV
03-30-2009, 4:51 PM
If pulled over because of a burnt out light, where driver likely did not even know it was out, is it normal for the officer to initiate contact by saying “license and registration please”? Is that opening contact legally sound? Versus “the reason I pulled you over tonight is because your left license plate light is out, now may I see your DL”. If after turning over DL, current reg and insurance (everything’s update and no warrants), the encounter then went to a flashlight inspection of the back seat and then even a “what’s in the trunk?” without any probable cause beyond the light out (and this occurs at reasonable hour, in nice neighborhood, with a clean everyday car) then would that encounter be?

A. it’s just another night on beat - standard protocol.
B. it’s a slow night - need to fish for something exciting
C. let’s push the envelope and see if Joe citizen knows his rights or is willing to assert them

If a driver was obviously speeding or rolled a turn on a red without full stop, then I could even understand an opening remark like “You know why I pulled you over, don’t you?” However, this has less to do with the how contact was initiated and more with legality of the trunk question. Most here would understand not wanting to disclose that there are a half dozen rifles and handguns in the trunk. Given back seats are up and empty, trunk is fully closed and locked (all FAs legally configured and unloaded while stopping to eat on way home from the range).

Do you play compliant “civilian” and maybe avoid the fix-it ticket or do you call them on overstepping?
Has anyone else been stopped for a license plate light out when there were two and one was still working? I’m sure I had street legal older cars that didn’t have any rear tag plate light(s).

This is not met to be an LE bash but a reminder that it is a lot easier when you’re on the internet to say “Officer there is nothing illegal in the trunk. Now you’re not trying to skirt my rights are you?” than when the bright light, and I mean really bright, is on your face. Hope I didn't have a big boogger in my nose.

Vacaville
03-30-2009, 4:57 PM
Sounds like most of the times I've been pulled over, except for the "What's in the trunk?" question. From my experience, most LEOs ask for license and registration, and then tell you why you got pulled over. Trunk question makes me think something looked wrong to him - he either suspected drugs or firearms.

CSDGuy
03-30-2009, 5:05 PM
If pulled over because of a burnt out light, where driver likely did not even know it was out, is it normal for the officer to initiate contact by saying “license and registration please”? Is that opening contact legally sound? Versus “the reason I pulled you over tonight is because your left license plate light is out, now may I see your DL”. If after turning over DL, current reg and insurance (everything’s update and no warrants), the encounter then went to a flashlight inspection of the back seat and then even a “what’s in the trunk?” without any probable cause beyond the light out (and this occurs at reasonable hour, in nice neighborhood, with a clean everyday car) then would that encounter be?

A. it’s just another night on beat - standard protocol.
B. it’s a slow night - need to fish for something exciting
C. let’s push the envelope and see if Joe citizen knows his rights or is willing to assert them

If a driver was obviously speeding or rolled a turn on a red without full stop, then I could even understand an opening remark like “You know why I pulled you over, don’t you?” However, this has less to do with the how contact was initiated and more with legality of the trunk question. Most here would understand not wanting to disclose that there are a half dozen rifles and handguns in the trunk. Given back seats are up and empty, trunk is fully closed and locked (all FAs legally configured and unloaded while stopping to eat on way home from the range).

Do you play compliant “civilian” and maybe avoid the fix-it ticket or do you call them on overstepping?
Has anyone else been stopped for a license plate light out when there were two and one was still working? I’m sure I had street legal older cars that didn’t have any rear tag plate light(s).

This is not met to be an LE bash but a reminder that it is a lot easier when you’re on the internet to say “Officer there is nothing illegal in the trunk. Now you’re not trying to skirt my rights are you?” than when the bright light, and I mean really bright, is on your face. Hope I didn't have a big boogger in my nose.
That would be the most likely reason. If things go as you indicate, it sounds like the standard traffic stop procedure. The flashlight shined in the back seat area is a plain-view search. AKA visual fishing. The asking of "what's in the trunk" is verbal fishing. People do often consent to a search of the trunk even when there's no PC to search. The Police know this, so they ask. The burned out light... well, that creates the reason for the stop. People get busted for stuff (like drugs) all the time because they consented to a search for which there was no PC for...

CSDGuy
03-30-2009, 5:07 PM
Sounds like most of the times I've been pulled over, except for the "What's in the trunk?" question. From my experience, most LEOs ask for license and registration, and then tell you why you got pulled over. Trunk question makes me think something looked wrong to him - he either suspected drugs or firearms.
Something gets the cop's attention/suspicion/hair raised on back of neck, but no PC to search, so cop asks...

Full Clip
03-30-2009, 5:14 PM
...and all you have to say is "No thanks" to him searching your trunk.
If he persists, let the DA prove "probable cause" to a judge.

jamesob
03-30-2009, 5:28 PM
as a former police officer here is how i did it most of the time. " hello i need to see your licence ,registration and insurance please". then if they have a chitty attitude like " why did you stop me?" then i say " i will explain after you hand me your paperwork" or if they say "sure thing officer" then i would say "the reason i stopped you was because your tailight is out. did you know that it was out"? attitude makes all the difference in how you are treated. as for lighting up the back seat, thats officer safety issues. you dont want to get shot wile some punk is sitting on the floorboard of the car. as for the trunk they are just fishing to see what your reaction is or they might have a hunch.
different officers have different ways of doing things some seem pleasant and others seem like a *****.

kajvid
03-30-2009, 5:50 PM
...and all you have to say is "No thanks" to him searching your trunk.
If he persists, let the DA prove "probable cause" to a judge.

Be careful with "No, Thanks" as a lot of times they will use "You don't mind if I look in the trunk do you?" All they will hear is "no" and claim you gave them consent.

I have a family member who is a lawyer. I was with him when he got pulled over. He hands the LEO his DL, ins and bar card! The cop asked why he gave him the bar card and his reply was "To put you on notice." Any question that was outside of the "rolled stop sign" was replied to with "Not pertinent". Including: "Where are you headed this evening?" and "Have you had any alcohol this evening?" Just as soon as he handed the citation and DL back it was "I am now free to go, correct?" and without waiting for an answer car is on and we roll.

I have zero issues with LEO. Love them and all of their hard work. But, NOBODY is bamboozling me out of my 4th! I love it when the try!

markw
03-30-2009, 7:10 PM
As much as I hate the ACLU...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqMjMPlXzdA

BigDogatPlay
03-30-2009, 9:10 PM
My riff was always "Officer Friendly". I asked if they knew the reason for the stop, if they said no I explained it. I always asked for the paperwork in stages because I didn't want to stand there watching them try to pull three pieces of paper together from different places I might be able to see into all at once. Most times I wouldn't ask for the registration right off, because I am going to run the plate anyway, if I haven't already.

Everywhere I can see in the car I look. Found everything from opened beers to stolen firearms just by simply looking. Conversation goes during all this to see what I can find out. All part of the game. If they didn't want to answer what they were doing, where they'd been or where they were going... oh well. If the person was really making me twitch, then we play the game more.

Attitude is everything. If you're cool, most times, the cop will be cool. If you have the misfortune to run into a *****, then you just deal with it and drive on.

KJS
03-30-2009, 9:12 PM
Never been pulled over in CA, but back in MI, they always started with asking for my paperwork. However, one a-hole cop in my college town had his floodlight right into my mirror, and then was like "Why you nervous?" when it caused me to squint/look uncomfortable.

ZRX61
03-31-2009, 5:44 AM
When the Officer asks "Do you always ride like that?"

The correct answer is "No officer"

& not "Why? Didya have a bit of trouble catching me sonny?"

Altho it may sound funny at the time. it won't have anywhere near the comedic impact when read out in court 6 weeks later... :(

ChuckBooty
03-31-2009, 6:39 AM
It seems normal except for the "what's in the trunk?" question. But nothing too out of the ordinary. If a police officer asks you "What's in the trunk?" all you have to say is something like, "Just normal personal property, sir. Nothing illegal.". If he asks to take a look just say, "I don't consent to any searches, sir". You don't have to be combative and say, "You're not trying to skirt my rights, are you?". That'd just piss the guy off.

Regulus
03-31-2009, 7:36 AM
...Attitude is everything. If you're cool, most times, the cop will be cool. If you have the misfortune to run into a *****, then you just deal with it and drive on.

+1000

I used to start with, “Do you know why I stopped you?”

1 – Are you going to incriminate yourself for later use if you challenge the citation? Followed by…
2 – Initial contact response, which may determine the course of the contact.

Like jamesob and BigDog said, attitude makes a difference… “Do you know why I stopped you?”

“I stopped at that stop sign!” = “Without admitting guilt, sign here promising to appear…”

“I’m putting you on notice.” = “Without admitting guilt, sign here promising to appear…”

“You’re not trying to skirt my rights, are you?” = “Absolutely not sir/ma’am. Without admitting guilt, sign here promising to appear…”

“Yes. Regretfully, I did not come to a complete stop back there.” usually = “Thank you for your honesty. Please drive safely. Have a nice day.”
<Disclaimer - Honesty in no way guarantee's anything. It is a discretion thing that worked at times with me>

Anything openly visible may lead to more questions.

Dare I say it… experience based prejudice (based on appearance of the vehicle and occupants and the area you are in – not race or gender) may also determine the extent of the investigation and questions (including the trunk).

sacshooter1
03-31-2009, 7:51 AM
By telling people why they are stopped right away is a good way to get into an argument with the person and make the routine stop last even longer. A lot of guys I know ask the same questions in the same order on every traffic stop. It makes it easier when you have to go to court and are asked about the contact by the DA or the defense. As for asking what was in the trunk it may be just part of the routine.

Theseus
03-31-2009, 7:52 AM
"Whats in the trunk?"

"Oh, I just left the donut shop. Want any?"

I once got pulled over and had a poorly installed amplifier for a bass tube. . The amp still had the price tag on it. They asked me how much I paid for it and where I got it. . . I said "Um. . . See the sticker? That is where I got it and how much I paid."

Did I mention I was pulled over in my car by a bicycle cop? Haha. . . I don't mind cops sometimes. . . but sometimes I just want to mess with them.

sastark
03-31-2009, 8:43 AM
Did I mention I was pulled over in my car by a bicycle cop?



http://img246.imageshack.us/img246/7753/pvp20090203.gif

alpha_romeo_XV
03-31-2009, 8:52 AM
I appreciate the responses, especially from past LEO and glad this stayed on an intelligent and non-emotional track. I don’t have any difficultly keeping it business polite during a stop, I deal with more stressful interactions everyday at work and have lots of practice in patience. As a parent with teenagers I know very well what it is to probe and work a situation.

The reality is that I didn’t have anything except an umbrella and a Bible in the trunk. I had dropped the guns off at home a couple of minutes earlier and then went out to eat in a stretch town with restaraunts and bars. The cop later admitted he was just looking for drunk drivers on a Sat night. But since I knew I had done nothing wrong, and got a flood light in the face, it made me think what if I had not dropped the guns of first. - that would have been more stressful.

There may be no one perfect reply to a stop, rather a bunch that need to picked from when needed per the exact moment. Any gun owner who transports guns to the range once or more a week is sooner or later going to get stopped – tail light or whatever. You better have a response plan well thought out and even role played with some friends.

Maybe I’ve been reading too many Calguns threads about long detentions over an OLL. But I had also recently watched the Youtube of the teenage employee at McDonalds that let other employees strip search her and humiliate her because they “believed” a cop was on the phone telling them to do it. That was a case where she should have more forceful about asserting not only her legal rights but her basic human rights.

Regulus
03-31-2009, 9:25 AM
http://img246.imageshack.us/img246/7753/pvp20090203.gif

:rofl2: We had a bicycle team at one point and I laughed out loud once when they went in pursuit of a vehicle. They got away... caught later.