“They have made this system convenient to allow your rights to be violated in a way that you would much rather have that happen than stand up for them.”
That’s how Eddie Craig, former Deputy Sheriff, and current show host at Rule of Law Radio, describes the Transportation Code of Texas. It could be applied to traffic statutes of any given state, or maybe he is referring to the entire way in which law enforcement goes about its business.
And it really is a business, driven by revenue, but possessing the power of the State and with a license to kill. Law enforcement is a revenue collector, producing obscenities like civil asset forfeiture where cash and property are seized from innocent people on made up suspicions.
Craig " target="_blank">appeared on the Tom Woods show to discuss how cops are trained to pry into people’s business during traffic stops, violating our rights to gain further admissions of guilt that may lead to a search or arrest.
“An officer's first job when he gets you pulled over for a traffic stop is to attempt to escalate that stop to either a DUI or a drug bust. He doesn't care about the traffic, that's just his premise for pulling you over. His real goal is to get inside that car and see what else he can find.
They are taught to find ways to keep the person in the car talking and answering questions that will allow them to continue their fishing expedition."
Craig himself never ticketed anyone during his time as a deputy sheriff. He only pulled people over who were driving dangerously, and if there was no criminal act then he would send them off with a warning to avoid dangerous driving.
Most of his former colleagues, however, are not so rational. They are true soldiers of the State, seeking a way into everyone’s privacy to feed the belly of government.
“Everything these officers do is meant to trick you into something that they can actually arrest you for,” said Craig of Texas law enforcement. In the Lone Star state, as soon as a cop puts his lights on to pull you over, you are in custodial arrest. You are treated as if in custody, and anything you say can be used against you.
However, you have the right to remain silent. “The more you say, the worse things will get,” said Craig.
For instance, in Texas one has the right to carry a gun in the vehicle while traveling. Even though it’s “none of his business,” a cop may ask if you have any guns in the vehicle. According to Craig, if you say yes, the cop will get you out of the car, take the gun and scan it. You are now linked to that gun, even if it’s not registered to you.
Craig cited the case of a female attorney, Rebecca Musarra, who declined to answer questions when she was pulled over by a cop in New Jersey. The cop responded by pulling her out of the vehicle and reading Musarra her rights, which includes the right to remain silent. The pending lawsuit could be a wake-up call to roadside rights abuse by police.
“Hi, do you know why I stopped you?” This simple question often asked by a cop when pulling someone over is the first attempt to lure a person into an admission of guilt. If you continue to answer questions like “Where are you coming from?”, it is a sure way to put yourself in danger.
“Oh, were you drinking at this party? Were there drugs at this party? Do you have anything in the car that I should know about...that you should tell me about?"
These are some of the baits in the fishing expedition. The motto of “Don’t answer questions” is generally a good one in police encounters. And Craig reminds us, as always, to record all police encounters.
Craig encourages people to take civil disobedience a step further in his “Transportation Stop” action script. He described it during a mock stop between Tom Woods, the pretend driver, and Craig as the cop.
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Make sure to pull over in a public space for your own safety, and acknowledge the pullover by waving or turning on emergency flashers. Do not incriminate yourself by answering questions; invoke your 5th Amendment right to remain silent if necessary.
This next part takes some more chutzpah and is controversial in that it could lead to irrational cops becoming agitated. Further clarification on the legal underpinnings is also necessary, as it relates to the precedence of state traffic code or federally guaranteed constitutional rights.
Craig says the right to remain silent includes the right not to produce anything that can be used against you in a court of law. He asserts that when a cop asks for your license and registration, instead of handing over the documents or refusing, you can say:
“Officer, can any of the information that you are demanding from me be used against me in a court of law or to potentially incriminate me in any way.”
The officer is obligated to tell you the answer, which is that he can indeed use the documents against you. Craig acknowledges that the law states you must hand over the documents, but he believes this is a violation of the 5th and 4th Amendments.
“But he didn't tell you what your rights were, and now you can show this was not a voluntary surrender,” said Craig. “And that statement can later be suppressed at trial where he can't use that info against you because it was illegally obtained.”
Some cops might actually just leave you alone. It’s hard to predict, but Craig said that if a cop refuses to answer or gets belligerent, you can say, “Officer, I believe that information can be used against me, therefore I invoke my right to remain silent. Do you intend to retaliate or punish me for simply protecting my right to remain silent?”
Not many people would be brave enough to take the situation that far. Unfortunately, it is easier to have your rights violated but refuse to answer questions, be on your way and pay the State extortion fee or traffic ticket. That is the point of the first quote in this article.
Too many cops like to take out their anger on vulnerable citizens, or they don’t know the laws they are supposed to enforce -- or both. As Craig points out, police departments are allowed to intentionally hire lower intelligence people. Why?
The State needs order followers, not those who would question orders.
Craig says there is very superficial training of cops in understanding statutes, leading to a poor understanding of the law. Cops usually don’t know the law any better than the general public.
“Statutory schemes use terminology that sounds and looks very familiar, but the meaning assigned to that terminology is not the same you understand from common usage,” said Craig.
Regardless of your willingness to take Eddie Craig’s “Transportation Stop” Action Script to its full extent, the question of state traffic statutes versus federal constitutional rights is an interesting one.
Asking the following question could indeed be a paradox for the rare rational cop on the traffic beat.
“As a peace officer you are required to protect me and my rights. One of those is the right to remain silent.”