Police Tricks During a DUI Stop
Police officers are trained in a special course called "verbal Judo." This training is designed to help them keep
others off balance by use of commands, tone and phrases intended to "throw you down" emotionally and thereby maintain control at all times. They expect you to obey short, terse commands. They do not expect you to ask them to explain "why" they are making these demands. In directing your behavior as they do, they are better able to predict and control an outcome from the traffic stop. The video or taped recording will make them look professional and you look nervous, stupid and impaired, after which they will have no reason not to arrest you, despite your obvious cooperation. Here are a few tricks I have come across in my practice. Feel free to send me any interesting experiences you have with these tactics.
Police Trick: Record by video or audio the statements, confession and admissions of drivers at the scene
Response: While this should be no surprise to many, some people are not aware that the police are commonly using video cameras to record the events of traffic stops. These cameras are mounted on the top of the dashboards of the police vehicles and may be swiveled 360 degrees and may even be recording people in the back seat of the police vehicle. The police can control the operation of this camera from a switch located on the belt worn by the officer. On exceptional occasions, a dishonest officer will attempt to manipulate evidence by taping only the statements he wants heard by tampering with the audio switch, however this is rare. So presume you are being recorded and take advantage of this fact by turning the event into an opportunity to test the officers reasonableness and patience. Use the Driver's Rights Statement
and watch the officer's reaction. How do you spell F-R-U-S-T-R-A-T-ION?
Police trick: Get the driver to cooperate in exposing eyes, face and nervous hands to the officer
Response: When the officer approaches your vehicle be sure your windows are rolled up and have your drivers license, registration and Driver's Rights Statement
in your hand. When the police officer approaches your vehicle, he will tell you to lower the window. Do so, but only lower the window about three inches and say "I can hear just fine officer." Then slide the drivers license and insurance and Driver's Rights Statement
out through the opening.
Do not look at the officer. Continue looking straight forward. If you have allergies, you should not expose yourself to undue contact with a harsh environment by opening the window completely or getting out of the car. Many folks carry paper masks or use handkerchiefs for such exposure, so don't be shy to protect yourself, just because the officer wants to ask you a few questions and then let you go. The camera may show your forward gaze from the position of the back of your head. When he sees you are masked or covering your nose, the officer will, in all likelihood, ask you to step out of the vehicle. He has authority to do that, but you may certainly ask to "stay inside while answering his questions, as you have allergies." This should always be a truthful statement. Carry a handkerchief and use it as needed. There may be many other valid reasons to avoid exposure and covering your nose and mouth so as to avoid contamination or spreading infectious illnesses such as colds and flus. Just tell the officer what the reason is so that too will be recorded. Other good reasons not to want to leave the vehicle could include hurting or injuring legs, ankles, knees or backs caused by arthritis, over-exertion or other physical condition.
Because of his training, the officer will insist that you step out. You should comply with his request but you are entitled to complain, limp or continue covering your face, if you are actually experiencing pain or discomfort. Be polite when the officer asks you questions, but never admit to consuming alcohol or drugs, even if you are told the officer smells such an odor. If the officer shines the flashlight in your face, cover your eyes and complain out loud that "it hurts your eyes," if it does. The point being, you can maintain some level of control over the final outcome of the video, if you use it in the same way the officer does: to preserve favorable evidence for later presentation in the case.
In following the outline above you have provided a credible reason for bloodshot, watery eyes, flushed face and have given your hands something to do. The officer is likely to appear insensitive as he follows his habits and training in this scenario.
Police trick: Get the driver to blow into a hand-held "alcosensor" device. The officer will suggest that the reason is to determine "if you are OK to drive home?"
Response: My suggestion is to point to the Driver's Rights Statement
you have handed to the officer and say nothing, but if you just have to speak consider saying, "Officer, when was the last time you took that thing apart and cleaned it?" Whatever the officer says, you should say, "If that is the best answer you can give me, I don't think I want those germs."
In any event, this roadside test is strictly voluntary and you should not take it. The officer may be frustrated and change his tone, Do not be intimidated. Say, "Isn't that thing strictly voluntary, anyway?" But whatever the excuse, DO NOT BLOW INTO IT!
Police Trick: Get the driver to voluntarily submit to road-side Field Sobriety Tests
Response: Again, the officer will likely insist you take these tests for him "just to see if you are okay to drive." These tests will usually consist of :
- HGN (eye-examination/test)
- One-legged stand with count to thirty
- Walk and Turn (heel-to-toe)
such as counting backwards, saying A-B-Cs and counting fingers are also used by some officers. These "dog and pony shows" will only amuse the officers at your expense, and be used against you at trial, so NEVER perform them.
Officers will ALWAYS tell you to assume a position for every single test. Even with the eye test he will tell you to stand still and not move your head. Always complain about the headlights if they are "too bright," or the "strobe lights," if they make your eyes feel "funny." In any event, DO NOT let him examine or test your eyes for any reason.
Likewise, you should tell him that you do not want to take any positions for any of the tests until he has fully demonstrated them to you. After he does demonstrate them, ask him "how long did it take you to learn how to do that?" Whatever the officer says then, ask him, "How much practice will I have before I do the final test?" The officer will not allow any practice per his training, and when he tells you so, say, "That doesn't seem fair, so if they are voluntary, I will take them after I get as much practice as you got." By this time, you will have so frustrated the officer from his usual course of conduct that he may even say something he will regret when the judge or jury hears it.
Police Trick: Threaten to arrest you if you don't cooperate and submit to field sobriety tests
Response: Surprise! The officer is likely going to arrest you anyway! If the officer sees you weave in the road, smells alcohol, sees bloodshot eyes or other symptoms of alcohol or drug impairment, he needs to get you tested on the state-approved Intoxilyzer 5000 ©
breath testing machine or a blood or urine test. But, the officer cannot even ask you to submit to these tests if you haven't ALREADY been placed under arrest for DUI! That's what this roadside investigation is all about: getting you to voluntarily give the officer the evidence he doesn't have so he can arrest you. The officer is going to look silly if you pass the state-administered tests. But, if you give the officer the evidence he needs at the scene, this officer can still prosecute you for a different count of DUI referred to as "less-safe." If you don't give them the evidence, at the scene, they will have a more difficult time getting a conviction down the road at trial. Don't submit to any road-side tests! They are all voluntary. You can use these laws to your advantage.