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When stopped for a traffic infraction, must I engage in conversation with the officer?

Yakima, WA |

When stopped for a traffic infraction, can I hand the officer my license, registration, and proof of insurance, along with a printed card stating 1)"I will not answer any of your questions without an attorney present" 2) "I do not consent to searches", and 3) "please let me know when I am free to go", and then remain silent for the remainder of the stop? I understand that this may annoy the officer, and that is not my intent. I have found in the past that engaging in conversation with the officer leads to additional delays. I have had them request to search my vehicle, made to wait while dogs sniff around the vehicle, and basically made to feel like I am a criminal because I would not consent to have the vehicle searched. I have a clean record, and have never been charged with a crime.

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

This is the best way to handle traffic stops. You will get a ticket every single time, but you're better of contesting the ticket in front of a judge later anyway. Make sure that your card specifically says that you're invoking your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. The words "Fifth Amendment" must be used, otherwise your silence may be used against you according to recent Supreme Court precedent.

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Asker

Posted

That is baffling. "the privilege "generally is not selfexecuting" and that a witness who desires its protection "`must claim it.'". I really cannot wrap my head around that reasoning.

Vitaliy Kertchen

Vitaliy Kertchen

Posted

No one can.

Posted

Yes. This exactly how you should handle any traffic stop. All you are required to do is present your license, registration and insurance. You do not need to talk to the officer, BUT you should not do anything to hinder or obstruct your arrest in any way. This includes exiting the vehicle and complying with any directions by the officer.

Scott W Lawrence
(425) 488-8481 (Office Phone)

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Posted

This is an acceptable way to handle the situation.

Just so you know, while it is not your intent to do so, this will likely annoy the officer.

My answers to questions are for general purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or establish any attorney-client relationship.

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Posted

I understand that the officer may become annoyed, but can he use my refusal to answer his questions as probable cause to search the vehicle?

Mikolaj Tytus Tempski

Mikolaj Tytus Tempski

Posted

No, refusal by itself is not going to create probable cause.

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