You’re Ready, but Are You Prepared?
The bags are packed and the car is loaded, but are you prepared for the legal trouble that is waiting for you down the road?
Below we’ll discuss how to respond to police questioning during a traffic stop, what to do if you are in a traffic accident, and how to protect yourself from angry drivers and domestic violence.
As millions more people are expected to travel this holiday season, you need to be prepared to assertively protect your, and your family’s, legal interests while far from home.
Police Questioning During a Traffic Stop
If you are pulled over, common courtesy and a smile will carry you a long way. However, you need to remember that the officer isn’t there to help you protect your constitutional rights.
You MUST provide identification, proof of insurance, and registration, but when the officer asks you how fast you were going, where you’re coming from, etc., he is purely trying to find some probable cause to search your vehicle and those are questions you shouldn’t answer.
If he asks to search your vehicle, it’s because he doesn’t have a reason and wants to go fishing. After license, insurance, registration, you should assert this phrase, “I do not answer questions without my attorney present, and I do not consent to any searches.”
For more info on this topic, see: Right to Remain Silent?
Traffic Accidents While Travelling
Traffic accidents are scary, but even scarier when you’re far from home. AFTER attending to injuries and/or calling 911, immediately take pictures of the property damage if it is safe to do so. Write down the names/addresses of witnesses or other parties. Write down your version of events immediately while fresh in your memory.
If you speak to the other driver, do NOT try to take the blame for the accident, offer to pay for their medical bills simply because you feel bad for being involved. These actions can only hurt you because you don’t know the whole story and may not actually be at fault.
For more info on this topic, see: Where to Sue After a Wreck?
Angry Drivers and Domestic Violence
Whether you are accosted by an aggressive driver on the road, or a family member at your destination, your response should be the same; call the police. I know this seems to go against my advice above, but police are there to keep the peace and keep you safe.
If someone intentionally or knowingly: threatens you with imminent bodily injury, or causes offensive or provocative contact, then that person has likely committed an assault. The worst thing you can do is respond in kind with your own assault because the last one in is always a rotten egg. If the assault is such that you must defend yourself, then just use enough force to repel the attack, and then call the police.
For more info on this topic, see: Can I Carry a Handgun?
–Authored by Matthew L. Harris, Esq.,
Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Criminal Defense & Civil Litigation Divisions
1001 Main Street, Suite 200, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3309
Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479