People often misunderstand how police officers think during traffic stops, checkpoints, and other such encounters. One of the most popular misperceptions is of the aggressive cop on steroids. While there are probably a few of these guys out there, most cops are basically good people trying to get through their day, just like you and me.
Of course every cop is different, but most have three major priorities in mind while they’re dealing with you, in this order:
- Get home safe.
- Don’t get fired.
- Don’t get sued.
First and foremost, cops want to get home safe. A lot of their training is focused on this and courts will give them a lot of leeway when officer safety is raised as an issue in a case. We can joke about donuts, but the truth is that every cop faces moments on the job that are genuinely scary.
So when you show the Fair DUI flyer to police – or in any other police encounter – it’s important that you don’t do anything that gives them a reason to feel danger. Keep your hands in plain view. Don’t make sudden movements.
This is also another reason to keep your mouth shut. If you speak, you might say something that could be misinterpreted by the officer as a threat or some other indication of danger.
Officers don’t want to get fired or sued either. The Fair DUI flyer will make them nervous about this for good reason. Cops are paying attention. More and more of them are aware that people have cameras, and that someone with a flyer like this is likely to be recording the encounter.
The choice of language at the bottom of the flyer is deliberate. By referring to statutes and/or cases, it warns that officer about a specific legal issue. Few officers will be familiar with those statutes or cases, and that will make them worried about their future in law enforcement. A good cop, at that point, will figure it’s a good idea to check with his sergeant before doing anything that might get him in trouble. The sergeant probably won’t know what to do either.
In a DUI checkpoint situation, they’ll see a line of cars behind yours and figure they can just get the next guy. Even if we’re incredibly successful in spreading the word, less than 5% of cars will have a flyer like this.
In a traffic stop, the flyer can hurt you slightly if the officer was thinking about cutting you a break on your ticket. But protecting yourself from the potential damage from a DUI arrest is far more important.