Two friends and I were recently driving to Annapolis, Maryland when we were pulled over by the local police. This is a frequent inconvenience to which I’ve been growing accustomed since moving to our nation’s capital.
In the past I’ve had some issues with the police searching my car when pulled over, so my roommate suggested I watch BUSTED. It has truly made a difference in my understanding of my rights and how to best handle encounters with law enforcement.
As the police lights came on, I quickly instructed my companions to refuse any unwarranted searches of the car or personal property, as demonstrated in the film.
Once pulled over (for improper lane usage!), we were all asked for ID and ordered out of the car individually, and separated. The police asked each of us whether we’d been drinking, if there was anything in the car they should know about, and whether we would mind if they took a look.
In the meantime, another police car arrived. This situation was intimidating, however we all responded that we had not been drinking and that we did not consent to any searches. (In other words, they could NOT “take a look”.)
The police were so smug (along the lines of “Uh huh, okay” in response), but it was incredibly fulfilling to see them circling and shining their flashlights through the windows, finding no probable cause to search the car without our consent.
Eventually they gave us our ID’s back and sent us on our way with a ticket for not pulling over quickly enough after they started flashing their lights.
BUSTED provided us with an invaluable sense of empowerment and basic knowledge of our rights that will enable us to “fight back” in a variety of future situations!