+
know your rights, talking to police, pulled over

How to speak to a police officer.

This article originally appeared on 09.12.17

Whether it's a traffic stop that turns into "We smell something in your car" or a "driving while black" situation, you have rights when you're pulled over, and it's for the best if you actually use them. So how does this work, anyway? Well, you have rights when you're pulled over. These have been established via case law, and ultimately, some stem from the Constitution itself. In order, here are the magic phrases, along with some graphics to help you remember.


1. "Am I free to go?"

In any situation involving the police, you can ask this question. Some people ask it slightly differently: "Am I being detained?"—which is a version of the same question. Basically, if they've got nothing on you, they have to let you go. If they answer no to that question, you are in fact not free to go. In that case, you are suspected of doing something, and it's their job to try to get you to admit to it or to say a bit too much and incriminate yourself.

2. "I do not consent to any searches."

One of the trickiest things that some law enforcement folks try is to talk you into letting them search your vehicle—or house, for that matter. "So if you haven't done anything, then you're ok with us searching your car … right? I mean, if you're innocent. We'll go easier on you if you let us." Do NOT give up your rights that easily. Are you certain your buddy didn't leave a bag of weed in the glove box? Are you sure your boyfriend took his target pistol out of the trunk after he went to practice shooting the other day? Are you absolutely certain that the body in your trunk was removed and buried in that farm fiel … whoops. Did I say that last one out loud?! The point is, don't give up your rights easily. And believe me, cops are gooooood at trying to play psychological games. Which leads to #3.

3. "I want to remain silent."

You have that right, and if things start getting thick, you need to use it. "We clocked you going 60 in a 50, but when you opened your window to give us your license, we smelled marijuana." The correct answer to something like this is, "I want to remain silent." The temptation is to say, "Yeah, my buddy and I smoked in my car this morning but I wasn't driving, blah blah blah"—but then you're already nailed. Time for them to get the dogs and search. Congratulations, you're on your way to the pokey for the night.

4. "I want a lawyer."

If you've reach this particular point, then you're in deep doodoo anyway, so go ahead and ask for one, and say nothing until he or she arrives. Remember these four things. It will be hard in the moment, with your adrenaline pumping, your freedom in question, and when you're possibly in physical danger, depending on the cops involved and your skin color.

"Am I free to go?"

"I do not consent to any searches."

"I want to remain silent."

"I want a lawyer."

Perhaps a word involving the first letter of the four statements will help you remember: FoSSiL (Free, Searches, Silent, Lawyer)

Or maybe a mnemonic:

— Fiscal Suns Scramble Lives

— Fresh Sushi Smell Lemons

— Flexible Straws Sell Lobsters

— Free Subjects Steam Lobsters

The clip below is a shortened version of a much longer one that explains your rights, detailing what you can and cannot do in these situations.


Albert Einstein

One of the strangest things about being human is that people of lesser intelligence tend to overestimate how smart they are and people who are highly intelligent tend to underestimate how smart they are.

This is called the Dunning-Kruger effect and it’s proven every time you log onto Facebook and see someone from high school who thinks they know more about vaccines than a doctor.

The interesting thing is that even though people are poor judges of their own smarts, we’ve evolved to be pretty good at judging the intelligence of others.

“Such findings imply that, in order to be adaptive, first impressions of personality or social characteristics should be accurate,” a study published in the journal Intelligence says. “There is accumulating evidence that this is indeed the case—at least to some extent—for traits such as intelligence extraversion, conscientiousness, openness, and narcissism, and even for characteristics such as sexual orientation, political ideology, or antigay prejudice.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Jon Hunter on Unsplash

Emu is hilariously out to get her owner.

Emus are interesting birds that kind of look like angry ostriches with different feathers. Thank goodness they don't fly because that would be terrifying to witness while driving across a bridge or trying to take your pooch for a walk around the neighborhood. But an emu named Karen is terrifying enough without the gift of flight. This emu, who wears the moniker "Karen" proudly, seems to have it out for her owner, the Useless Farm Lady who runs the Useless Farm that Karen calls home, posting about their interactions on TikTok. It seems that every time farm lady turns her back on the fuzzy bird, Karen sees it as her opportunity to strike.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Jan Baborák on Unsplash

Large SUVs and trucks can have huge blind zones out front.

Since the invention of the automobile, humans have worked on innovative ways to make driving and riding in cars safer. From seatbelts to airbags to electronic stability control, cars today are safer than they've ever been.

Some safety features are also designed to make driving safer for people outside the car. Backup cameras have made backing out of a driveway far less nerve-wracking, allowing drivers to see those tiny tykes on trikes who sometimes dash by on the sidewalk. (Seriously the best invention.)

But along with increased safety features have come car design trends that make some aspects of new vehicles less safe. SUVs have been around for a while, and many families buy them for both comfort and safety. But as many SUVs have gotten bigger and taller, the blind zones in front of the car have become much larger and more dangerous than people might think.

Keep ReadingShow less