Know Your Rights When Stopped By Police
Part II: Car Stops

Ready for Part II?

The same rules we laid out in Part I apply here: familiarize yourself with that first as your foundation for any interaction with a police officer.  And then read on: here is what to do (and NOT do) when you get pulled over in your car:

1. Download this iPhone shortcut. If you have an iPhone, there is a brilliant program you can download that automatically initiates a bunch of commands when you say “SIRI, I am getting pulled over” once you see those siren lights flashing behind you.  It does the following:

-Your front facing camera starts recording
-Any music that is playing is stopped
-Turns on Do Not Disturb
-Volume is set to 0
-Brightness on the screen is set to 0% so your screen darkens
-A pin is dropped at your location
-Sends this text to a contact of your choosing: “I’m getting pulled over. Here is my location on Apple Maps” with your location URL and the video
-The recording is uploaded automatically to iCloud and Dropbox

Click here to download the shortcut using the SAFARI browser on your iPhone:

(You’ll also need to make sure your phone can load unverified shortcuts. Go to Settings > Shortcuts and toggle Allow Untrusted Shortcuts. Also you will need give the program access to your location, which you can see how to do here.)

This shortcut was made by @Sonikku_a2 on twitter

2. Police officers have the right to see your driver’s license, insurance, and vehicle registration.  Keep your hands on the steering wheel as the officer approaches your car.  They will perceive any movement from you as a threat.  When you need to retrieve your license and registration, say slowly out loud: “I am reaching into my wallet to get my license,” or “I am reaching over to the glove compartment.” Keep your registration and insurance bundled in your car so they are easy to grab.

3. You have NO duty to answer any questions. The officer might ask, “Where are you coming from and where are you going to?” or “How much have you had to drink tonight?” Politely DECLINE TO ANSWER.  Say: “Hello Officer, I wish to not answer any questions. I would like to leave, am I free to go?

4. Officers have the right to ask you to step out of the vehicle, and you MUST COMPLY if they ask.  However, if the officer asks to search you or your vehicle, politely DECLINE. Say: “I do not consent to any searches.

5. Officers may ask you to participate in field sobriety tests and you should DECLINE ALL TESTS.  Politely say: “I respectfully decline all tests.”  These roadside tests are voluntary and are nearly impossible to pass.  The officers may make you feel like this is not optional, and you may want to agree to do a test to appear cooperative, but NO MATTER WHAT, you should REFUSE all field tests. This is your right and it can save you big time if you are charged with any crimes later on.

6. Ask the officer: “Am I under arrest or am I free to go?”  You can tell the officer that you wish to leave – you do not have to explain where you are going or why.

7. If the officers have probable cause to arrest you, they can legally arrest you.  ALLOW THE ARREST TO HAPPEN EVEN IF YOU THINK WHAT IS HAPPENING IS ILLEGAL.  Let your lawyer fight this later on, and avoid giving the officers fuel for another criminal charge.  If you resist in any form, the police will look to add an additional charge against you, and YOUR LIFE MAY BE AT RISK.  So stay calm and focused.

8. If officers decide to arrest you, DO NOT RESIST OR FIGHT BACK. The police will perceive any form of resistance as a threat to their safety.  If the arrest is illegal or improper, a lawyer will be able to get your case dismissed later on.  Do not try to talk or argue your way out of this.  Nothing you say will change their decision to take you into custody and anything you say will be used against you in a criminal proceeding.

9. ASK FOR A LAWYER. After you have been arrested,  officers will take you to the police station.  At the station they may try to get you to take a breath test if they have suspicion that you were driving under the influence.  Tell them that YOU REQUEST A LAWYER BEFORE TAKING ANY TESTS OR RESPONDING TO FURTHER QUESTIONING.  You have the right to talk to an attorney BEFORE submitting to the breath test.  Keep in mind that in Washington state, if you decline the test at the station, your license may be automatically suspended for at least one year and police may get a search warrant from a judge to take a blood sample from you.  If granted, police have the right to take a blood sample from your arm.  You are entitled to a copy of the search warrant, so ask for it if you aren’t given one.  Your lawyer can talk through your options BEFORE all of this happens.  If you don’t have an attorney’s information on hand, the police station should provide you with numbers for the public defender and some private attorneys.  Call us at 206-777-5627 – we are available to help at all hours of the day!  And no matter what, get an attorney on the phone.

10. If you are booked into the jail, you have the right to see a judge to review any potential crimes you may be charged with WITHIN 72 HOURS.  You have the right to a public defender or a private attorney at this first hearing.  At that hearing, your attorney has the ability to ask for your release from the jail. It helps if they have contact with your family or other members of the community that could vouch for you.  The judge may impose a bail or bond on your case, which is an amount of money that must be paid as collateral for your release from the jail until your case is concluded. Your attorney should make arguments as to why a bail or bond is not appropriate in your case. There are public resources available if you cant afford your bail. If you need bail assistance or would like to contribute to a fund, see:  – NW Community Bail Fund – Black Lives Matter Seattle – National Bail Out Collective – Not This Time! – a community organization – King County Defender Collective

If you have been arrested, CALL US at (206) 777-5627.  We can guide you through the legal process and help you stay focused on the next step.

Stay tuned for PART III: Know Your Rights During A Protest.


Andre Dayani is lead criminal defense attorney at Dayani Law Firm. He offers free consultations and will  fight for you after a criminal charge.  Send him a message below or call directly for a consult at (206) 777-5627