Citation: Murple. "False K-9 Threat: An Experience with Speeding Ticket & Police (exp6911)". Erowid.org. May 17, 2001. erowid.org/exp/6911
I was driving from DC to New Orleans to attend the second weekend of Jazzfest 2001 with two friends. It was approaching midnight on a dark and empty stretch of highway I-59 in Mississippi, and I'd been driving for over 12 hours. I constructed the following fantasy in my mind to pass the time on the road. This story is completely fictional, of course, because I would certainly never allow illegal drugs in my car, nor would I ever do anything so un-American as to stand up for my rights.
My two friends had about a quarter ounce of marijuana each, as well as a glass pipe and some rolling papers. In the trunk of my car, I had a grocery bag containing a bundle of dried opium poppy pods, a cutting of San Pedro cactus, a couple Valium tablets, and a gelcap containing several doses of 4-acetoxy-DIPT. In spite of all this stuff, I was driving pretty fast because I wanted to make the trip as short as possible. Normally, I never drive with drugs in my car, so I don't really think twice about speeding. Unfortunately, I guess I wasn't wearing my thinking cap on this particular night.
I was driving at around 95mph, when all of the sudden I see the reflection of a police car parked on the median - too late. I see his lights come on and he speeds up to get behind me. I woke up my friends and said 'Eat your pot' - but they told me how much they had and since that was too much to eat in time, I told them to stick it down their pants or something. I pull off onto the shoulder, and get out my license and registration while I wait for the cop to walk up. In my home state, police walk up to the passenger side of the car when they pull you over, presumably because its harder for the driver to attack the cop. This officer walked up to the driver side though, which I found unusual. I tried to hand him my license and registration, but rather than taking them he asked 'Would you mind stepping out of the car, sir?' This was also pretty unexpected, as in every other situation where I'd been pulled over, the police just took my license and registration and returned to their cars. I got out of the car and the officer said 'Why don't you walk back and get into my car?' I walked back and opened the back door, but he said 'No just go ahead and get in the front seat.' I got in and handed him my license and registration. He asked me if I knew how fast I was going, I said 'Pretty fast, huh?' and he told me I was clocked at 92. He asked what the hurry was, and I explained that I'd been on the road for hours and just wanted to get to New Orleans. I asked how far it was to the Louisiana state line, and he said it was a little over 100 miles. He filled out a speeding ticket which he handed to me. He then asked me if I was going to New Orleans to see family. I said 'No, I'm going to see a friend.' Then things took a turn for the worse. He asked me if I had any weapons or drugs in my car. Of course, I said no. He asked me how well I knew the two people in my car, and if they had any drugs on them. Then came the question I'd long feared to hear from a cop: 'Do you have a problem with me searching your car?' Instantly, all the years of reading legal advice kicked in, and I answered 'I've been advised never to consent to a search.' The officer then said 'Well, in that case what I'm going to have to do is call a K-9 officer to come here and sniff around your car.' I said 'Well, you do what you have to do then, but I'm not going to consent to a search.' He then said 'Well, whoever told you not to consent to a search, did they tell you that I can cut you a deal? If you give me any drugs you have in your car now, I'll just let you go. But if the K-9 comes here and finds something, he's going to take you to jail. I've got reason to believe that you're hiding something because you're refusing a search. So do you want to just give me whatever you have and take the deal?' I responded 'Sorry, I don't have anything to give you. I'm not consenting to a search because I've been advised not to, plus I know how long searches can take and I've been on the road all day and I just want to be on my way.' The cop said 'OK then, well, you guys could be preachers for all I know, but if the K-9 finds anything then you're going to go to jail, so this is your last chance.' Again I told the officer that I didn't have anything to give him. The officer then said, 'Why dont you step outside for now. Go stand behind your car, but don't get in it.' I got out and stood behind my car. A minute or so later, the officer came up and said 'OK, well the K-9 is on the way, but while we're waiting... its just you and these two females in the car?' I said 'Uh, one of them is a male, sir.' Trying not to look stupid, the cop said 'OK then, I'm going to talk to your friends while we wait for the K-9 car to arrive.' He told me to go stand in front of my car and wait, while he went and asked the guy in the passenger seat to come back to his car with him. While I stood in front of my car, the officer took my friend back to the police car and asked him a series of questions, basically trying to confirm the story I'd told. This was mostly uneventful except for one very amusing bit where he asked my friend about the girl in the back seat - 'Is she a pot head? Is she high on ecstasy right now?' None of us can figure out where he came up with the ecstasy thing. Anyhow, after interrogating my friend for several minutes, he released him and asked me to come back and talk to him. He asked me if I had taken any drugs recently, if I had ever been arrested, and if I had any outstanding traffic tickets. After answering these questions, he said 'OK, well, I'm going to be cool. I'm just going to let you go with a speeding ticket, and when the K-9 officer shows up I'm going to tell him that you consented to a search and that I didn't find anything so I let you go. But we've got cops stationed about every 20 miles looking for speeders and drugs, so don't even think about speeding anymore.' We got in the car and head off down the road, driving at exactly the speed limit all the way to the state line... a difficult task, considering the massive adrenaline rush we were all on.
Looking back on the experience now from a calmer vantage, it seems clear to me that this cop was a real rookie. He was obviously very young, no more than 25. He seemed to be trying various scare tactics which may have worked on someone unaware of their rights, but to me seemed almost humorous - particularly the bit about cutting me a deal and letting me go. Yeah, RIGHT! I doubt very much that a K-9 officer was actually called, and I don't think he even had legal grounds to do so. I was certainly a little nervous, but at that point I figured if they had me, they had me, and although there wasn't anything I could really do about it at that point, I sure wasn't going to make it any easier for them. The lesson here seems to be clear - never consent to a search. No matter what kind of threats they try, never consent. If they have legal grounds to search you, you will get searched no matter what. This officer even had the nerve to tell me that refusing to consent to a search gave him reason to believe I was hiding something - and tempting as it was to tear into him for that remark, I just let it slide in the interest of not antagonizing him and prolonging the incident. If a police officer tries to tell you this, ignore it - refusing to consent to a search in no way gives them probable cause for a search. If it did, they wouldn't be asking you, they'd be tearing your car apart. If they try scaring you or cutting deals with you, that just means they don't have anything they can legally use against you and are tying to trick you into screwing yourself. If they want to bust you, make them work for it. Chances are if you just refuse to consent to a search, they will end up letting you go. If they have legal grounds to search you, they're not going to bother asking anyway. If you're ever in this kind of situation, just remain calm and don't surrender any of your rights. Never consent to a search or accept any 'deals' which involve you incriminating yourself. Of course, even smarter would be not to drive 25 miles over the speed limit through Mississippi with a car full of drugs.
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