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Police dramas and police reality shows are ubiquitous features of American television. When you channel surf at almost any hour of the day or night, you can find one or more of them available for viewing. This saturation means that, even if you have not personally experienced the criminal justice system, you probably know your Miranda rights, among them, the right to remain silent.

The reason why you should be reticent when talking with a police officer is explained within the recitation of your Miranda rights. What you say to the officer can be used as evidence against you in a later criminal prosecution.

If you have been pulled over because a police officer suspects you of a traffic violation or some other crime, it is difficult to over emphasize the importance of remaining silent. Although a police officer is not required to read you your Miranda rights until you have been placed under arrest, it is a good idea to start exercising your right to remain silent from the moment you see the red and blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror.

Recall from all of those police television programs you may have seen one result of modern technology: the dashboard camera that records audio and video. What this means is that during a traffic stop it is highly likely all of your conversation with the police officer is being recorded even before the officer decides whether or not to arrest you. So, if you say something that is potentially self-incriminating at any point, that statement will be preserved.

Of course, your right to remain silent is something to exercise in combination with common sense. If the officer asks you a question that obviously would not lead you to say something against your self-interest, such as your name or your address, responding with silence may serve only to antagonize the officer and make him or her even more suspicious.

As a general rule, unless you are already a traffic ticket attorney you may not know whether any details you provide to a police officer can harm your defense in traffic court later on. Therefore, you should make a conscious effort to keep your verbal statements to a minimum. In particular, avoid the temptation to volunteer information.

To learn more on the subject of exercising your right to remain silent in a traffic stop, see our earlier post on this topic, which contains video links and other extensive information.

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