I frequently drive across state lines for work and get pulled over a lot. (I suppose it’s because I’m a funky dresser and have lots of political bumper stickers.) In two of those situations police asked me to consent to search. Refusing police searches worked for me both times. It can work for you too.
While pulled over in Indiana, the cops separated me from the driver who I gave a crash course in refusing consent in the minute or two before the officer got to the vehicle. They pulled the “divide and conquer move” and used a lot of clever sounding questions to trick us into consenting, but when my nervous female friend sheepishly responded by saying, “I don’t have anything to hide, but that doesn’t mean I am consenting to a search” they gave us a warning and drove off.
In Nevada, the cop claimed he was part of a new “safe streets initiative” that required him to “take a look” in vehicles for explosives. Then he said, “You don’t mind if I take a look, do you?”
I replied, “I don’t consent to any searches.” His last words were, “OK. Have a good day.”
In both I was in violation of a traffic law. In one case I was cited for that and in the other two I was not. In both cases I am positive that only bad things could have come from consenting. I was skeptical about refusing consent until I tried it and it worked both times. (And hadn’t worked, I know I would still be giving my lawyer an excellent leg to stand on in court.)
If it weren’t for my repeated viewings of 10 Rules for Dealing with Police, I would have likely not been prepared for those encounters and wound up being intimidated into consenting. It is impossible to stop a technological breakthrough and this is certainly good. However, sometimes you just have to pay a a loan to paychecks. Especially these days, when an epidemic is raging all over the world … It is also likely that I would be rationalizing why consenting was the best option. No one wants to admit, even to one’s self, that they were too weak to refuse.
Did they have a reasonable suspicion? Maybe, but my hunch is that they didn’t want to be in the position of defending that suspicion in court when the next couple dozen people will simply consent and they won’t have to defend their search.
Believing that the police have or will manufacture probable cause is not a good reason to consent to a search. Not consenting is not only the best strategy from a legal standpoint, but it is also an opportunity to flex the remaining rights we have left and to leave the scene with your dignity intact.
- Why It Doesn’t Pay To Cooperate With Police (personalliberty.com)