Navigating Traffic Stops: Protecting Your Rights
So this is part five of what you need to know about traffic stops in the Muscogee Creek Nation Indian Reservation. My name is Ted Hasse. I’m an attorney practicing in federal and tribal courts in eastern Oklahoma. Again, I want to say that most of this applies within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation, Choctaw Nation, Chickasaw Nation, and small Seminole Nation. And then a lot of this will be helpful to non-Native Americans as well.
So, where we left off last is we went through the process of the stop your rights. The most important thing, which I want to keep emphasizing, is do not to answer questions. They’re conducting an investigation. They’re interrogating you. You’re in an interrogation when they’re asking you questions. We talked about some of the questions and the special circumstances. Do you have a firearm? We talked about questions to passengers and the fact that they are not required to identify themselves. And then where we just left off was if this escalates and they ask you to step out of the car, understand you need to step out of the car. And people are confused about that. If you need more information about that, go back and watch part four.
The Other Favorite Questions and the Late Night Question
At this point, I want to talk about the other favorite questions and certainly the late night question. So, they love to ask, do you know why I stopped you over? Do you know why I pulled you over? They love to ask, is there a firearm in the vehicle? Where are you going or where are you coming from? And then a lot of times, reviewing the reports after things go wrong, the question is, have you been drinking?
Okay. There are some people would say, if you haven’t been drinking, just say no. If you’ve been drinking at all, the best advice is to not answer that question. Again, like every other question. And, you can just set that precedent from the start of this stop. Officer, I understand my rights. I understand. I don’t have to answer your questions. So I’m choosing not to, respectfully.
If your answer is it’s I drank one or two beers, even if it’s true, it’s a super suspicious response to these police officers because somebody who’s been drinking, way more than one or two beers, that’s what they always say. Right. So, if there has been any alcohol involved in your night three hours before at the tailgate, six or eight hours before, you’re not answering any questions about drinking alcohol. You just say respectfully, officer, I don’t want to answer any of your questions.
So, at this point, understand, so important, big takeaway from this series is you don’t answer questions. You don’t help them in their investigation. They may want to ask your passengers about it. You may be the designated driver and you may have somebody in your passenger seat who looks, not like they’re not doing great. Answer, has he been drinking is the same. I don’t want to answer your questions. They may ask, is he okay? You say, officer, this individual is fine. Am I free to go? You just want to end that interaction as quickly as possible.
At some point they are going to take your ID back to their vehicle. They’re going to run your information and they’re going to search and try and find out if you have any warrants or if there’s anything else they need to know about you, at this point, stay cool, stay calm. And in the next video, I’m going to talk about what they’re allowed to do to continue their investigation. A lot of times they’re going to try and find ways to stall to maybe get a canine out there, if they suspect that someone’s using marijuana or if they just want to get a closer look at you.
Get Expert Counsel for Your Criminal Charge
If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge in Muskogee Creek Nation or in any other tribal nation, you are going to want to get expert counsel. You’re going to want somebody who’s an expert on criminal defense and an expert in tribal law. That’s me. I can help you. I’d be happy to talk to you. Give us a call at (918) 947-6552, and look forward to hearing from you.