I write a lot about exercising your rights in traffic stops and how you can refuse things like road-side DWI tests. But does that mean you should be rude to the officer?
NO!! Here’s three reasons to always be polite to them, even if you refuse to do what they ask:
1. Law enforcement officers are just folks like you and me who are trying their best to do their job. Sure, there are some bad apples out there. And some departments have reputations as being particularly tough. But overall, I have a lot of respect for law enforcement personnel. Just like anybody you encounter in your daily life, they deserve respect.
2. The officer has a lot of power in your case. He is usually the person who decides what you are charged with. And he can also put in a good (or bad) word for you with the Commonwealth’s Attorney when the case comes trial. Do you really want to tick off the officer?
3. Many prosecutors and judges take a dim view of defendants who are rude and disrespectful to the officers. Your demeanor with the officer could make a huge difference in the outcome of the case. Being polite won’t get the case dismissed, but being a jerk certainly can make it hard to get a break from the judge.
The reasons could go on, but surely you get the point. I always suggest to NOT allow the officer to search your car if asked. And it usually makes sense to refuse roadside DWI tests. But you certainly should exercise your rights politely.
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