General Question

RocketSquid's avatar

How much can you argue with a cop?

Asked by RocketSquid (3465 points ) December 5th, 2009

A during a trip home, I was pulled over for speeding. The cop had me get out of my car and sit in his while he wrote the ticket, stating I had been doing 67 in a 55 mile per hour zone. I was having car trouble at the time (hence the trip home to work on it), where my car would shake violently if I went over 60. He gave me a sidelong glance, paused, and stated that he’d do me a favor and instead of writing me a speeding ticket, he’d write one for not wearing a seatbelt. I started once again to protest, since the seatbelt in my car is automatic, it was dark AND I was wearing several layers of loose clothing. Another sidelong glance, and this time his hand “deliberately rested” next to his tazer while he did so, before he continued writing the ticket. I figured that would be the time to shut up, especially since we were behind the camera.
I doubt he would have actually tazed me, but I didn’t want to push my luck.

This is something I’ve always wondered, though. How much can you argue with a cop (being civil, obviously)? Anyone who’s been stopped, asked if they will submit to a search, only to have their car searched anyway with the refusal being used as “probable cause” might see where I’m coming from. Or is there a place that lists your rights during a traffic stop?

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32 Answers

TheNimrod's avatar

Personally if the cop was wrong I would wait until the court date. They have too much control to argue with outside of court.

peedub's avatar

Do your arguing in court, not on the street. In that venue you will never win against a police officer.

RocketSquid's avatar

@peedub That I understand, but I was hoping to prevent as much misinformation as possible. For example, I would have preferred to stay in front of the dash cam should he actually taze me under the guise that I was being violent or resistant. Would that be something I could request or would that warrant “resisting arrest”?

jackm's avatar

You should not have gone into his car. You did not have to leave your vehicle.

deni's avatar

People have a lot more rights with cops than they realize, but everyone is too afraid to exercise them because you’ll get fuckin tazered…because they can.

augustlan's avatar

I’ve never had a police officer ask me to sit in their car while they write me a ticket. That’s strange… did he give a reason for that?

belakyre's avatar

This is why I don’t drive. Cop’s eyes aren’t God’s eyes. (Assuming that you believe there’s a God)

peedub's avatar

I think you have a good question. A troubling thought is that things can and do get made up, or rather, stories altered to explain why you were tazed or beaten. I would just play it cool.

arnbev959's avatar

Just for clarification: How fast were you going? Were you wearing a seat belt? (The way you worded your question was a bit vague.)

What you are legally able to do and what you can practically do are two very different things, since it’s likely the officer won’t follow procedure exactly, and won’t always respect your rights.

You don’t want to argue too much with a police officer, but you are allowed to disagree, and you don’t have to give consent to anything you don’t want to. It’s best to be cooperative, even if you disagree. The cop (understandably) wants to be in control of the situation. You should be careful what you say, as the cop may word things vaguely in order to get you to say something or admit to something you don’t mean.

The trouble with court is that there’s no evidence. It’s just the officer’s word against yours, and the reasoning is that you have a reason to lie, while the cop doesn’t, even if this isn’t true.

Not consenting to a search cannot be used as probable cause. And there is no reason why you should have to leave your car.

RocketSquid's avatar

@petethepothead I was going about 57 at most, I was having some trouble so when my car went over 60 it would start to rattle pretty bad, and I was wearing the lap belt along with the automatic shoulder strap Watching Death Proof the night before kind of helped remind me, I usually don’t.

@augustlan A The cop was pleasant for the most part, save for the gesture to his tazer. It was raining a little bit, so I figured maybe he wanted to stay out of the rain as much as possible, but he never stated why.

augustlan's avatar

@RocketSquid I’ve never even been asked to step out of my vehicle… maybe he thought you were someone they were looking for or something.

YARNLADY's avatar

I have read that you sit and listen, and say nothing, but make notes immediately aftwards and hire a lawyer to handle your case.

ratboy's avatar

Shut up as soon as he draws his weapon.

anon30's avatar

Don’t cops have a cam on there pen pocket now?

juwhite1's avatar

The cops here have a recorder on their pan pockets, and a dash cam in their cars. That way, everything that is said can be heard. I agree with many others that it is best to save the arguing for court, in part because the cop has more power than you so an argument isn’t likely to turn out well, and in part because arguing with the cop will tip him off to your defense, and give him or her the opportunity to change the complaint to get around your arguments prior to going to court.

CMaz's avatar

I have heard this before. Cop pulls you over then reneges on the original reason you were puled over then given the option of having a no seat belt on instead ticket.

Whichever ticket you take, keep your cool. Never a good idea to protest without a permit.
File a complaint as soon as possible with internal affairs of that police department.

That behavior is nothing more then a shake down.

Darwin's avatar

As others have said, save your arguments for court. He is probably trying to make his quota and is already grumpy because it’s raining. However, as much as possible stay in front of the dash cam and avoid anything that can be taken as a threatening move or word.

Val123's avatar

@YARNLADY A lawyer? You gonna pay a lawyer $500 to get you out from under a $60 speeding ticket?

What is an “automatic” seat belt?

Some cops are just on a power trip. I got pulled over for speeding (32 in a 20 mph…no, it wasn’t in a school zone!) It was just me, and my son, who was 9 at the time. We were coming back from Walmart after having bought some camping stuff for a boyscout trip we were getting ready for. The moron pulled up behind me at a stop light, I mean, just flew up on me, then waited until it turned green and I started to roll, and then he just hit his lights and sirens and scared the carp out of me! And THEN, when he got out of his car and approached my car, he did so with that sideways, cautious slide the cops use when approaching someone armed and dangerous, with his hand on his GUN!! He kind of leaned in from the side of my window, with his hand on the gun, and asked for my stuff. I mean, how dangerous could this lady and her 9 year old son possibly LOOK??!!! Moron. I protested a bit at court, about all of it, and they reduced the ticket some what….

Val123's avatar

@RocketSquid Um…per the getting you out of your car into his…..by chance are you an attractive young lady?

wundayatta's avatar

In a case like that, you can probably represent yourself. Get the seat belt ticket, then show the judge you have automatic seatbelts, and it’s a slam dunk. Especially if the cop isn’t there to testify.

Val123's avatar

Yes, you will always have the opportunity to refute when you go to court to pay the ticket. State “Not guilty,” or “No contest,” then they’ll arrange a really-real court date for you to present your side….and the cop will be there to present his side. I assume he doesn’t have the speed saved on his radar gun thinger? Wouldn’t hurt to try, anyway.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

Yeah first off, I am pretty sure he needs probable cause to remove you from your car unless he asks you too and you willingly listen, second arguing with him might help, but like you said there’s a point where its just smart to shut up. As far as the refusal thing that almost never happens because to search your vehicle without your permission he needs a warrant, which can only be approved by a judge. He does have the right to search the area that you are sitting in that you can reach, but not like locked glove boxes or trunks or back seats(but again probable cause here too) etc. The only time they don’t need a warrant to search your car is when it gets towed, then they can say they where doing an inventory on your vehicle to make sure the tow guys don’t steal anything, or you try to say something was stolen.
So yeah there is a place that lists your rights during a traffic stop i just don’t know where it is, I learned a lot of this stuff in school. be careful what you read on the internet alot of it is over the top

Pazza's avatar

Personally I wouldn’t sign the ticket, if he says he’l taser you if you don’t for non-complience, sign the ticket, but before you sign your name write ‘under protest and duress’, and then sign, this effectively invalidates your signature, its like saying I only signed it because if I didn’t he would have tasered me!.

Now if he doesn’t taser you and you haven’t signed the ticket, he’l probably arrest you, to every request, reply under protest and duress, when you get to the station, sign your name under protest and duress.

Whilst at the station, state that you wish to go imediately before a magistrate, so far as I know, most places this is the law, a police officer is not capable of proving a crime, only suspecting one and collecting evidence, hense the magistrate who will look at the evidence and then make a dicision as to prosecute or not.

If they hold you in a cell with no conviction, so far as I understand, is essentialy kidnaping.

That is the situation as I understand it in a common law duristiction from what I have read and watched.

So the question is not how far can you take it, but how far are you willing to take it?

Flutherers are welcomed to correct any of the above, any and all information on this subject can only be in the interest of the sovreigns.

Oh, an read ‘Bursting Bubbles Of Government Deception’ by Robert Menard…...

DrBill's avatar

Let him write the seat belt ticket, fight it in court.

If he says “you were speeding” make a motion to strike it from the record as immaterial.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

Signing the ticket doesn’t mean anything except that you acknowledged that you were given a ticket. It isn’t accepting a guilty plea or anything like that. Not signing the ticket is dumb.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Val123 I thought the OP wanted to pursue charges against the cop for misconduct, not just get out of a ticket.

mattbrowne's avatar

Depends on his or her character and level of education.

Pazza's avatar

@LKidKyle1985
Actually signing the ticket is proof that the officer provided you a service, even if that service turned out to be steeling your money. The kicker apparently is that once you’ve signed the ticket, the corporate policy inforcement officer will give you a copy of the bill you just signed and not the origional, so you just effectively said ‘yes I acknowledge you provided me a service, but I not paying you!’, this is known as dishonouring a bill.

So signing or not both have significantly more meaning than you would have origionaly thought.

Silhouette's avatar

I look before I leap. You can tell an awful lot about a cop by their body language? Wearing sunglasses at night=bad sign. Fondling their holster=bad sign. Fondling their baton=real bad sign. Do you know why I pulled you over?=trick question One you better think about before you answer.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

I agree with the general sentiment that it is wiser to argue in court than with the police officer. It is the officer’s duty to control the scene, mostly to keep any incident from escalating and causing danger, real or potential.

gtreyger's avatar

You NEVER talk to cops! If you do, he’ll twist your words as much as he can. You ALWAYS have the right to remain silent. Fifth amendment guarantees that. You (or your lawyer) argue the case before the judge, not on the side of the street with a man who has a badge and a gun. The best answer to “Do you know why I pulled you over?” or “Do you know how fast you were going?” is “I would like to exercise my right to remain silent.” The next best answer to the first question is “No” and to the second question is: “Yes”. The end. Anything you say in addition to that WILL be used against you in the court.
If a cop asks to search your car (you don’t mind if I take a look in your car, do you?) you have the right to refuse the search. At that point, the cop needs to get a warrant from a judge. A judge will NOT give a warrant based on a refusal to search. If the cop goes ahead with a search anyway and finds something, it will be thrown out in court. Just remember to exercise your right to remain silent. That right is protected by the fourth amendment. You MUST, however, make sure that you don’t have anything illegal, or anything that might be seen as paraphernalia in plain view. That will give the cop a probable cause and the judge will issue a warrant.
Everyone has the right to remain silent, few have the ability. Those few will walk out of the court room nine out of ten times with a clean record.

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