Love him or hate him, we all know Justin Bieber. This infamous bad-boy musician may have finally established his street cred by landing himself in a pair of handcuffs last Thursday for DUI and resisting arrest. The scrappy Canadian was particularly antagonistic to the arresting officers, so I thought that a brief analysis of his police report would illustrate what NOT to do when interacting with police. Let’s pretend that he pulled this stunt in Texas and learn a few lessons on how to act if you get pulled over. Below, I’ve selected some choice excerpts from the arresting officer’s police report and then discussed how the Biebs could have handled himself differently.
“[THE POLICE OFFICER] ASKED [JUSTIN] TO PLACE THE VEHICLE IN PARK. AT THIS TIME, [JUSTIN] BEGAN TO STATE: “WHY DID YOU STOP ME?” [JUSTIN] STATED: “WHY THE F*** ARE YOU DOING THIS”?”
Here’s his first mistake: he initiated confrontation with the officer. When you get pulled over, you need to remember that cops have unlimited discretion to do as they please. If you give an attitude to them, expect to get an attitude in return. No matter how you feel about cops, always treat them with respect.
If officers ask you to get out of your car, ask if you’re free to leave. If they say ‘no’, then ask to speak to an attorney before you say anything else.
“[THE POLICE OFFICER] ASKED [JUSTIN] TO NOT GO INTO HIS POCKETS FOR [HIS] SAFETY. . . . [THE POLICE OFFICER] ASKED [JUSTIN] TO PLACE HIS HANDS ON HIS VEHICLE IN ORDER TO FACILITATE A CURSORY PATDOWN FOR WEAPONS. [JUSTIN] STATED: “WHAT THE F*** DID I DO, WHY DID YOU STOP ME?”
Many officers will agree that traffic stops present the biggest threat to their safety because they never know if the driver or passengers are dangerous. Quick movements, reaching under your seat, or putting your hands into your pockets will all increase the sense of danger in the officer’s mind.
A few things will help. First, turn off the car and put the keys on top of the dash. Keep your hands on the wheel at 10 and 2, and tell the officer where your hands are going before reaching for anything. For example, say, “Yes officer, my insurance card is in my glove box, so I’m going to reach for it right now,” before you begin to move your hands towards the glove box. If it’s night, turn on the inside light. The cop will appreciate all of this.
And don’t ever say “what the f*** did I do?” (See mistake #1 above).
“[IN RESPONSE TO A REQUEST FOR A CUSORY PATDOWN, JUSTIN SAID HE] AINT GOT NO F***ING WEAPONS, WHY DO YOU HAVE TO SEARCH ME, WHAT THE F*** IS THIS ABOUT?”
The Biebz had the right idea here: you should never consent to a search. If the officer reasonably senses danger (like a suspect putting hands in his pockets), the officer may be able to legally pat you down. All pat downs and searches by law enforcement are subject to the 4th Amendment, which excludes evidence if the search was unreasonable. Still, a better way to respond without the f-word is “I do not consent to any searches, but I will not resist.”
[JUSTIN] BEGAN TO RESIST [THE POLICE OFFICER] BY PULLING HIS RIGHT ARM AWAY AS HE STATED: “WHAT THE F*** ARE YOU DOING.”
Don’t. Ever. Resist. You are being recorded, and if that video ever ends up in front of a jury, you’ll look like an ass (even if the arrest was illegal). Let the video show you being respectful instead of abrasive, then let your attorney fight back in the courtroom.
WHILE EN ROUTE TO THE STATION, [JUSTIN] INQUIRED AS TO WHY HE’D BEEN ARRESTED.
All statements can be used against you in a court of law. Based on Justin’s statement here, a prosecutor could mention in his or her closing argument that the defendant had already forgotten why he was arrested. Whether or not that’s true is irrelevant; it’s still a point against him.
After you’ve been arrested, invoke your right to silence and to have an attorney. Practically speaking, this means, “I’d like to speak with my attorney before answering any questions.”
[JUSTIN] DID NOT PERFORM [FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS’] TO STANDARDS. [JUSTIN] LATER AGREED TO A BREATH TEST AS WELL AS A DRUG EVALUATION.
Although the report is unclear here, it seems that the Biebster attempted (and failed) a breathalyzer and field sobriety tests. If you want to see why this is a bad idea, try standing on one foot for thirty seconds. Tough, isn’t it? Now imagine doing that with your heart racing while flashing lights disorient your vision as you’re surrounded by a pack of attentive police officers hungry for an arrest.
If you’ve been drinking, don’t perform these sobriety tests. Also, don’t consent to any breath or blood tests. Politely request an attorney instead. A refusal may result in your license getting suspended and can be used as evidence against you. Even so, that’s better than a slam-dunk case for a prosecutor.