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Oh, no! Cops are behind me — what should I do?

The Fourth of July holiday weekend is here, with plenty of entertainment and celebrations taking place in and around Waukesha. Inevitably, however, the holiday also brings a marked increase in police presence on the highways.

If you see the dreaded blue lights behind you in your rear-view mirror, do you know what to do to avoid incriminating yourself in the traffic stop?

Assert your right to remain silent

Cops have a favorite fishing tactic they use on unsuspecting motorists they've just stopped. They ask an innocent-sounding question that is anything but: "Do you know why I stopped you?"

If ever there was a loaded question designed to get a motorist to begin incriminating him- or herself, that is it. Even if you have no idea what you did wrong, all sorts of possibilities probably popped up in your mind, just waiting to burst forth from your mouth to become evidence against you in court.

Admit or volunteer nothing. Politely respond, "No, officer."

The ball is back into his court and he'll have to tell you why he stopped you. You may have been pulled over for one of many reasons that doesn't constitute a breach of laws. But admitting to an offense opens up all kinds of doors to future prosecution.

Don't surrender your Fourth Amendment right against warrantless searches

Cops approach citizens as criminals-in-the-making when they ask to search a home or vehicle without warrants. Their assumption is that those who refuse have something to hide.

Surrendering rights never ends well. Criminal defense attorneys tell horror stories about clients who consented to searches only to have narcotics or other contraband planted on their person or in their vehicles in order to justify a "bad" stop or arrest. But at that point, it becomes your word against the officer's when you stand in front of the judge.

Make them get the warrant. At the least they will realize they are dealing with an individual who is savvy about protecting his or her rights. This may make them think twice about doing something that isn't strictly by the books.

A drug conviction negatively impacts every aspect of your life. Begin building your defense against drug charges the moment you are stopped on the street.

Source: The Free Thought Project, "7 Ways Police Will Break the Law, Threaten, or Lie to You to Get What they Want," Larken Rose, accessed June 30, 2017

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