Fighting Traffic Tickets in Washington State: Myth 3
MYTH #3: IF YOU DO WHATEVER THE OFFICER SAYS YOU WILL NOT GET A TICKET
It is important to note that we are not suggesting that you should be rude to the officer or that you should not do what you are legally required to do. The goal of this article is to educate our readers.
You should always comply with the officer if he or she asks you for your license, registration, and proof of insurance. But anything more than that is the officer using the traffic violation as a basis for further investigation.
Questions like “where are you going?” “where are you coming from?” and “do you know what I stopped you for?” are officers’ way of using the traffic stop for further investigation. If you are stopped for allegedly violating a traffic law, you must provide the officer with your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. You are not required to answer any questions beyond that.
Sometimes I hear clients say “well I have nothing to hide, why should I not answer the officer’s questions?”
I think it is a reasonable question. So let me address it.
First, you do have something to hide. You are being stopped for violating the law. So you have that to hide. Second, maybe you do not have anything to hide, but is your private life is any of the officer’s business? Maybe you are taking your kids to school or you are going to a wedding; whatever you are doing, why does the officer need to know that? He does not.
But going back to having something to hide. Officers’ questions, however innocent they may seem, are part of the investigation. Remember the “anything you say can and will be used against you?” It applies here too. Answers suggesting that you are running late will be used in the officer’s report as further proof that you were speeding, ran a stop sign, or were driving in the HOV lane to avoid traffic. Answers like “I was watching a game at a friend’s house” or “I was at a Christmas party” will prompt the officer to ask if you were drinking. See how quickly this can go bad?
I get clients all the time who tell me how nice the officer was to them; and how polite and respectful the officer was about them being late to work. It never fails when I tell them that the officer will not seem so nice when we read his report.
Doing whatever the officer says will not get you off with a warning. Do not let an officer trick you into thinking they will not give you a ticket or will not testify against you in court if you simply comply. We are not suggesting you should be rude to the officer. But you can politely decline providing anything more than your license, registration and insurance.
Greg Sarkisyan is an attorney at Community Law Firm, PLLC, and the author of this post. If you would like to read more, visit us here. If you need legal assistance call (206) 262-7390 or e-mail Help@CommunityLawPLLC.com.