This may come as a surprise to some reading this post but, this post does not offer a synopsis of the law or point out any recent changes in the law. However, there is a purpose with the law in mind and those who may be accused of breaking it. Inspired by a conversation that I had with a couple of local officers and a colleague a couple of weeks ago it became clear to me that what is obvious to me is not always obvious to everyone and that this topic may provide some insight for those that find themselves in the predicament of being pulled over by the police or those being questioned on the suspicion of some wrong doing in the eyes of the law.
(NOTE: For those of you like my husband, who prefer pictures over reading, this can all be summed up with a couple of pictures which are located at the end of this post.)
I am pulled over by the police for speeding and I think to myself, “what should I do?”; “should I use sugar or vinegar?”. In my opinion the answer is always Sugar! You might be thinking as you read this that I am the master of the obvious but, you would be amazed how many people in this exact situation choose the latter. It is rare that using vinegar in this recipe will result in a palatable meal. For example, a scenario relayed to me by one of my close friends who is what?….an officer:
Officer: “Ma’am do you know why I pulled you over?”
Lady: “You tell me, you’re the one pulling me over.”
Officer: “You were going a little fast Ma’am and school buses are dropping off children. Do you know how fast you were going?”
Lady: “Isn’t that what that *#?! radar is for?”
Officer: “I will be right back.”
(Officer returns to his patrol car and despite the fact that this lady has been rude, the officer chalks it up to a bad day and writes the ticket for 12 miles over the speed limit rather than the 15 miles over the speed limit that she was actually doing so she won’t have points on her driving record. The officer returns to the car to explain the ticket.)
Officer: “Ma’am I clocked you at 60 MPH however, I have only written you a ticket for 57MPH”
Lady: “I have been driving this *#?! road for 20 years and I have never gotten a ticket!”
Officer: (takes out his pen, marks through the 57MPH he originally wrote and writes in 60MPH and hands it to the lady)
“Well then you know the speed limit on this road.”
Now, let us assume she takes this to court in hopes to negotiate the ticket down after realizing how it will affect her insurance. Do you think the officer would be willing at that point to work with her? Probably not. Let us assume she has a real legal issue that may help her to ultimately have the ticket dismissed and decides to have a trial. Even if she has a great legal issue, couldn’t the judge be persuaded to rule against her simply because she behaved badly? (Yes, judges are human.)
The same usually applies to more serious criminal cases. What comes to mind is DUI arrests. In the words of Ron White, “I had the right to remain silent, I just didn’t have the ability.”
Typically, a good officer is going to have his video and audio recordings memorializing the entire exchange. I do not mean to imply that you should submit to an officer’s request that you provide him or her with a breath sample, or that you should ever waive your right to an attorney when being questioned by law enforcement. However, there is a way to exercise your constitutional rights in a civil and even, polite manner. It can likely help your attorney settle the case in a more positive light because you were not hard to deal with or yelling obscenities at the officer ON VIDEO. Remember, everything you say and do is likely being recorded.
What about when the officer is rude first and for no reason, you ask? ANSWER: Let him or her behave badly on the video! I can not tell you how many cases I have gotten dismissed or reduced because the prosecutor didn’t want the jury or the judge to see how badly the officer was behaving.
In my opinion, sugar is always better than vinegar. If you are in the right and law enforcement is in the wrong, let your attorney use the law and reason to argue your position. If you’re in the wrong and law enforcement is in the right, then give your attorney something to negotiate with.
PICTURE SUMMARY AS PROMISED:
“Sugar or Vinegar?” Who would you be more willing to find NOT GUILTY?