Be respectful. If you are driving and get signaled by police, pull over immediately, turn off your car and place your hands on the wheel. Do not curse, argue or engage the police. Furthermore, do not reach for your license or registration until the police officer asks because reaching into the glove box could be interpreted as reaching for a weapon. When the officer does ask, however, hand it over immediately.
Remain silent (#STFU). You know that thing you always hear in movies, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you”? That is pretty self-explanatory, and it is really your main defense against search and seizure. The police have the right to ask you as many questions as they want and will attempt to get you to give them probable cause. However, police do not have to tell you about your right to remain silent until you are actually detained and arrested. If asked if you were drinking, smoking or even speeding, you can politely reply, “I prefer not to answer any questions” or “I prefer to remain silent.” Remaining silent is not probable cause for a search. However, if you say “no” to these questions, it can become a problem later if you actually did drink, smoke or hit the white powder like Scarface. It creates impeachment issues if you end up taking the stand and is also admissible under an exception to the hearsay rule. And if you say “yes,” you could really hurt your case or give them the probable cause they need. If the officer asks why you won’t answer questions, play dumb and blame it on a friend or family member who is a lawyer, or you can be a badass and inform them you do not want to waive your Constitutional Rights. Robert Downey, Jr. played an elite lawyer in The Judge, and to quote his character, “You don’t talk, you walk.”
Ask if you are free to go. At anytime, you can ask, “Officer, are you detaining me, or am I free to go?” Many times, the police will claim that, if you consent to a search or “cooperate,” they will let you go regardless of what they find. The police will also ask leading questions like, “Have you had anything to drink or smoke tonight?” Maybe you had a beer or medical cannabis earlier, and you know you are not currently impaired—it doesn’t matter. The moment you admit to consuming any alcohol or cannabis, you give the officer probable cause for search and seizure. After stating your intent not to answer questions, proceed to ask, “Am I free go go?” Ask repeatedly.