+
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.


Baby Cora bears a striking resemblance to actor Woody Harrelson.

We can all get a little fascinated by doppelgängers and it's fun to find people who look alike. But what do you do when your baby girl looks uncannily like a famous middle-aged man?

Mom Dani Grier Mulvenna shared a photo of her infant daughter Cora side by side with a photo of Woody Harrelson on Twitter, with the caption "Ok but how does our daughter look like Woody Harrelson." The resemblance truly is remarkable, and the tweet quickly racked up hundreds of thousands of likes, shares and replies.

Naturally, the jokes about Harrelson being the baby's secret father came next, but then Harrelson himself got wind of it.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by nikldn on Unsplash

Mom makes dog shaped pancakes

At Upworthy we like to bring you feel good stories and this one from Good Morning America is perfect for back to school. Pancakes are a staple of breakfast for many Americans. We stack them high, make them as big as a plate or sometimes make them as small as a golf ball. People have even figured out how to add even more sugar to the already sweet breakfast item by making them out of cake mix or topping them with some sort of icing instead of maple syrup. But one mom, Anne Sage has won the pancake making game by making them in the shape of different dog breeds.

Keep ReadingShow less

Take pleasure in the simple things.

Greg Dutra is a meteorologist for ABC7 Chicago. But thanks to his adorable discovery during a live weather report, he’s now a wholesome viral sensation.

The weather report started off in its usual way, with Dutra pointing out potential rain patterns on a digital map. But once this weatherman realized his map was actually a touchscreen, his excitement simply could not be contained. Childlike joy ensued.

“I can do that? No way!” he exclaimed, with all the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning.

“Are you serious? Did you just discover that?” his morning co-host Val Warner asked off camera.

Then Terrell Brown, another co-host, popped into frame to join in on the fun. He showed the awestruck reporter that yes, one can move the map simply by touching it. Evidently no one had made Dutra privy to those marvels of modern technology.

Keep ReadingShow less