MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — A simple traffic stop can turn into a felony in a matter of seconds. It’s all about how police and the driver interact. If you disobey an officer’s order, you could face charges.
But you do have rights. At Muskegon Community College on Monday, officers and lawyers discussed what you should do when you are stopped by police.
There are some things you likely know already, like to have your license and registration ready. Monday, police reminded citizens to keep their hands where officers can see them and, most importantly, stay calm and don’t be combative.
Muskegon Public Safety Director Jeffrey Lewis said your actions affect police officers’ reactions.
“Fighting the officer, driving away from the officer, that could have got really ugly,” Lewis said.
Lewis said there are the six things you should do when you are pulled over:
Muskegon County Assistant Public Defender Charles Ayres clarified the last two points.
“Cooperate with what they are asking, but don’t provide incriminating information against yourself,” he said.
He said you always have the right to remain silent and that anything said during a stop can be used against you.
Ayres also pointed out that officers can and will lie during interrogations to get information. However, if you lie to an officer, you can be charged.
Even when you aren’t legally obligated to answer questions, police say the manner in which you decline matters.
“Communicate it in a courteous manor, like, ‘I’m in a hurry right now. I just don’t want to answer that question. Am I fee to go?'” Lewis explained.
If officers don’t tell you that you are being detained, you should ask if you are free to go. If the situation reaches the point that you are read your Miranda rights, ask for a lawyer and other than that remain silent.
“Police officers have an interest in this and citizens should have an interest in this because at the end of the day, we have to both walk away,” Lewis said.