You’ve heard me state for years now: “Don’t say nothin’ without your attorney.” I have said it here on my blog. I have said it in high school and college classrooms. I have said it at dinner parties and at gatherings of lawyers. I have told other lawyers. I have told doctors. I have said it to carpenters, painters, plumbers, electricians, hairstylists, waiters, cooks, truck drivers, cops (and robbers!), “Don’t say nothin’ without your attorney!”
People ask me all the time if I “mean it.” Well, of course I mean it. And also, use some common sense. Let’s talk about that. And remember, this is a blog, I don’t know the particulars of every situation and so this is not specific legal advice like you’d get in my office. But these are general rules that hopefully can guide you if you’re in a tough spot. (The cops have even stopped this old white man for being out too late. They wanted to know what I was doing there. AND, I followed my own advice…and I walked.)
Hypothetical case #1: You get stopped for speeding on your way home from work. You are sober. There are not drugs or alcohol in your car, your toolbox, or your body. There is no one else in the car with you. You were speeding.
I always keep my hands on the wheel of my car until when officer asks me for my license and insurance. I want that cop comfortable! That cop has a gun. He has permission to use that gun if he becomes uncomfortable enough with me.
I always smile. I always look him or her straight in the eye and say, ‘Hello, can I help you?”
The cop always says, “Did you know that you were driving over the speed limit?” or “You were doing 74 in a 65 mph zone.”
And I always say, “Oh?”
And he says, “Yes”, and takes my driver’s license and insurance.
I have said, “I was zoned out. I’m embarrassed.” I have said, “ I didn’t see it that way, Officer. I am pretty sure I was doing the speed limit.” But after that, I don’t argue. He wouldn’t have stopped you if he wasn’t prepared to defend his actions.
I am an: old. white. male. I usually get a warning. (I guess I won’t after this blog, huh?) Sometimes I get a really expensive ticket. (That goes to my other favorite saying about dealing with police: “Don’t do the Crime, if you can’t do the Time.”) And I call the court and make payment arrangements.
If you are young, female, a person of color, or driving a car that indicates you might be poor, I suggest being as polite as possible. Everything you say should end with “sir” or ‘ma’am”. Keep your hands where they can be seen. Do not argue with the cop! You may respectfully disagree, but DO NOT argue. I always smile and it seems to work for me. The point here is not to get out of a ticket. That is up to the cop. The point is to only get a ticket and not get arrested or shot. If they ask if they can search your car, the answer is always ‘No…. Can I go now?”
Call us if you need us, we know what to do. (405) 236-1800. See Part Two (tomorrow).