Interacting with the police is intimidating. Think back to when you were seventeen years old. Did you have the necessary knowledge to calmly handle a traffic stop? As a parent, you must equip your teenager with the tools necessary to interact with the police in ways that do not escalate the problem.
What to Do When Pulled Over
Driving presents one of the most common situations where your teenager will interact with the police. Here are 10 things your teenager should do if their car is stopped by the police.
- Give the police their license, car registration, and insurance card. The police have the right to inspect these documents to learn your teenager’s identity and to make sure that they are driving a car that complies with Connecticut’s driving requirements.
- Do not agree to let the police search the car. Your teen enjoys a right of privacy when they are in their vehicle. Subject to very limited exceptions, the police need a search warrant signed by a judge to search the car. Although it is hard to do in the moment, your teenager should not agree to let the police search the car. It is important to understand that if a driver agrees to a police search then the police do not need a warrant.
- Do not answer questions about talking or texting with a cell phone, drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, etc. For teenagers, these activities are strictly against the law. Hopefully, your teenager will not partake in these illegal activities. Regardless of whether they are guilty or not, your teenager has the same right to remain silent that you possess. They should use it! They need to tell the police officer that they are not going to answer those questions without a lawyer, and they should ask the police officer to call you immediately.
- If the police ask your teenager to step out of their car, they must obey. Depending on the reason for the stop, the police officer can ask drivers to exit their cars for further questioning. Your teenager should comply with this order. If they do not, the police officer will surely arrest them, and may resort to the use of force to make your teenager comply.
- Do not consent to perform any physical coordination tests. If the police suspect that a driver is operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they can ask the driver to perform several physical coordination tests to ensure that the driver is safe to continue driving. In actuality, these tests are highly subjective, and the police officer’s conclusions about the driver’s performance is often used by prosecutors as strong evidence of guilt. Your teenager should refuse to perform these tests.
- Do not consent to preform a breath test. For the same reason, if the police request that your teenager perform a breath test, they are doing so to create evidence against your teen. Your teenager should not perform a breath test.
- Use their cell phone to record the interaction, if possible. Your teenager should try to record their conversations with the police officer (or have their friends do so). It will provide a valuable record of what actually happened. Otherwise, the police officer’s “official” version could carry the day.
- Never run away and show their hands at all times. This is really important. Tell your teenager that they should never drive away or run away from the police officer – even if they know that they are going to get into trouble. When you run away from the police, the situation worsens. The police officer will respond with force. Also, while they are seated in their car, your teenager should try to make sure that the police officer can see their hands. When police cannot see a person’s hands, they might think that the person is holding a weapon. Your teenager wants to let the police know that they are not a problem. Displaying empty hands is one of the best ways.
- Do not make any recorded statements. Inform your teenager not to make any statements to the police about their conduct. Teenagers sometimes think that they can talk their way out of problems. This is not the case in dealing with police. When they talk to the police, they will just be giving the police officer more evidence to use against them. Your teenager has the right to remain silent. They should use this powerful right.
- Immediately request an attorney. Any interactions between your teenage driver and the police can turn out badly. Inform your teenager that they should request an attorney to protect them. If you or your teenager has any questions, or needs legal representation, please contact me. I am always here to help!