19 Phrases to Avoid if You’re Pulled Over by Police

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By Darryl Henderson

Any cop pulling you over will give you a fair warning: “Anything you say can and will be used against you”. Yet the anxiety of being pulled over can leave some people desperate to explain. We’ve listed 19 phrases you shouldn’t say if you’re stopped by police.

“I’m not carrying a firearm”

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If you’re in a state where it’s legal to carry a firearm, you might think that lying about it will be the best option to avoid intensifying the situation. However, admitting to carrying is important, and keep your hands on the wheel while you tell the cop, says Fox 5 News.


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Being pulled over by a cop can make even the innocent feel guilty for something, so it might be automatic to apologize to the officer – but this can only make you look worse if you haven’t done anything wrong. It’s better not to make them suspicious!

“I know why you pulled me over”

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You might have suddenly remembered a broken tail light or some other minor issue, thereby admitting to it straight away – or you might just be making a badly timed joke! Either way, never admit any guilt before the officer has had a chance to explain.

“I don’t have my license”

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Knowingly driving without a license can result in a ticket and hefty fines, states Encyclopedia, even if you didn’t do anything criminal on the road. Yet admitting to not having a license if the officer hasn’t even asked is something that will only serve to incriminate you.

“You can search”

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The officer can lawfully search your vehicle if they have a warrant, but if they don’t, you shouldn’t tell them that they’re free to take a look. If they ask without a warrant, state clearly that you don’t allow any unlawful searches to take place.

“I don’t have to show you”

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Your officer will usually ask for a license and vehicle registration, and it helps to know what you’re legally obliged to show in the state you’re driving in. By refusing to show them anything, you could be refusing something they have every right to ask for.

“Why did you pull me over?”

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Opening with a statement of questioning why the officer pulled you over can sound immediately defensive or even antagonistic. The officer has their reasons for pulling you over, which is up to them to disclose, so demanding it off the bat will only make you look bad.

“You don’t have to do this”

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If you’re caught in a genuine offense, it’s best not to tell the officer that they have a choice not to do this. This can sound like a guilty person pleading or even a precursor to bribery. Usually, this will only make the cop more persistent in charging you with something.

Lying About Anything

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It doesn’t matter how big or how small; if you’re caught even in a white lie after the cop has first pulled you over, this will set the tone for the rest of the exchange. If you lie about one thing, what else are you lying about?

“I know my rights”

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Immediately telling the officer that you know your rights sounds far too aggressive and doesn’t let them know that you’re going to be cooperative, so you’ll want to avoid this. You have your rights, but the officer will also have their reason for pulling you over.

“But I only had one drink”

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In the U.S., the legal blood alcohol content level for driving is 0.8%, so anything above will be seen as intoxication, according to Forbes. So if the officer tests you and finds you over the legal limit, saying “but I only…” is basically a confession that you did knowingly drink.

“Shouldn’t you be catching real criminals?”

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Asking an officer if they don’t have better things to do with their time will only make it seem like a hostile and impatient exchange. They’re only doing their job, so implying they’re doing something wrong by pulling you over won’t paint you in the best light.

“I only did it because”

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If you have committed an offense, trying to come up with excuses as to why you did it won’t do you any favors. The bottom line remains that you still committed the offense, so it’s only the court and not the officer who needs to hear the reasons for it.

Talking Too Much

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It can be understandable to want to fill the silence, but if you say more than you should, you might inadvertently admit to something the officer has been waiting for. Only provide the information you’re directly asked for, and wait silently for the next question.

“I know people”

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Telling the officer that you know people is simply a threat that they aren’t going to take kindly to. Saying anything akin to implying that you could get them fired or that there would be repercussions for them doesn’t get you out of the offense and will only aggravate them more.

Insulting Them

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If things have become a little heated and you’re uncomfortable being pulled over for no reason, the best course of action isn’t to insult them or use vulgar language. This can make the situation more tense, and the officer is likely to escalate the situation.

“What you’re doing is wrong”

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If the officer is genuinely doing something wrong or illegal, then they’re not going to stop there and then. The only way to handle the situation is to allow them to continue and then contest it in a court of law instead of making them angrier.

“My taxes pay your wages”

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Telling the cop outright that you pay for their wages is only going to offend them, so you’ll want to avoid it. Not only that, many cops in the U.S. struggle with a “poverty wage”, according to NBC News, which means bringing up anything regarding wages could make for a tense exchange.

Saying Anything Else After an Arrest

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And finally, if the exchange leads to an official arrest, it’s better to remain silent from that point forward, as is your legal right to do so. Nothing you say now will change the charge, so it’s best to keep quiet until your defense.