In states all across America, law enforcement agencies are increasing patrols over the Memorial Day weekend. Now, while these highly publicized campaigns are typically marketed to scam the average person into thinking that police are simply searching for seatbelt violators and drunk drivers, the truth is they are prowling the streets for any reason to stop you.

In Louisiana, the penalties for marijuana possession are severe, especially for those unfortunates with prior offenses on their record. And despite many legislative battles to diminish those penalties, there are some offenders still being sentenced to upwards of 20 years hard labor... for pot. Therefore, it stands to reason that nobody wants to get pulled over for a routine traffic violation and end up doing time because a cop just so happened to find a joint.

Here are a few tips that will help you deal with the police this Memorial Day weekend:

Rule 1 -- Do not drive drunk. If the cops bust you for drinking and driving you will be arrested, and they’ll be able to do whatever the hell they want – search you, your vehicle, etc. If you happen to have any marijuana in the vehicle or on you at the time, they will charge you with it. Always have a designated driver or just party at home.

Now, with that being said…

You do not have to answer their questions: Be polite and hand the officer your driver’s license and registration. However, if the officer starts asking questions like “Where are you headed?” or “What’s in the trunk?” politely ask him if you are free to go. There is no reason to be rude…simply respond by saying, “Am I being detained?” and “Am I free to go?” As long as you are not driving intoxicated, the officer will likely assume you are aware of your rights and leave you alone. Or he will push you a bit further by asking to search your vehicle.

Do not consent to searches: You are not required by law to let the police search your vehicle. They will need a warrant, but first they will need to establish probable cause. If an officer asks to search your vehicle, simply respond, “I’m sorry, I do not consent to searches.”

If you happen to get arrested, do not give a statement to police: This is simple… you have the right to remain silent, so exercise that right. If you happen to get arrested for any reason, do not talk to the police at all. They will use whatever you say to build a case against you. If you provide them with no statement, an attorney will have a better chance of getting you off.

Good luck and stay safe!

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