It’s a Saturday afternoon and everything seems to be going your way. The sun is shining, your favorite song is playing and you just picked up a half ounce of marijuana for your camping trip next weekend. Then the red and blue lights start flashing in your rearview mirror. By this point you’re probably thinking, “what the hell do I do now?

Getting pulled over with marijuana is a scary situation. But unless the police somehow caught you in the act, you still have options and rights you can exercise. Don’t do anything stupid, and follow these steps to best protect yourself when the cops have you pulled over with weed in the car.

Step 1: Stay Calm and Be Polite

It’s not exact science, but chances are the cop is pulling you over for something that has nothing to do with weed. It might not even be on their mind. If you already know you were speeding or that your registration is expired, roll with it. The more nervous you act, the more the cop will start to think there’s something else they need to start looking for. Simply ask them how their day is going, and maintain a good attitude throughout your stop. It could be the difference between being handed a ticket and being asked to step out of the car for further questioning.

Step 2: Don’t Give Them Probable Cause

Don’t leave anything lying around the car that could tip off the cops. This means lighters, empty baggies, beer cans or anything else that conveys, “I like to party.” The same goes for loud music playing on the stereo. The time to listen to “F Tha Police” is not when you’re getting pulled over BY the police. Turn your music off, keep the car clean and don’t give the cop clues that you may have more going on than just an expired tag.

Step 3: Don’t Destroy the Evidence

Please, whatever you do, don’t eat your weed. It will taste terrible, and if you get caught, your Class B misdemeanor just went up to a felony. Destruction of evidence is a far more serious charge than marijuana possession, and the cop is very likely to notice any sketchy movements you make during the stop. Make do with the hiding spot you already have and take the necessary steps to keep the situation from getting worse.

Step 4: Obey Instructions Carefully

Any time you get pulled over, a police officer will automatically request to see your driver license and vehicle registration. They are fully within their rights to request these items, and you are required by law to present them. From there, only do what you’re asked to do unless they ask to search the vehicle (see step 6). Keeping things moving smoothly is your best bet for getting back on the road without further incident.

Step 5: Keep Your Mouth Shut

Unless they start asking you questions, don’t start giving them answers. Nothing hints that you have something to hide like pointless rambling and excuses for problems no one ever brought up. Don’t tell the cop about your “headache” or how you just got in a fight with your girlfriend. They don’t care, and the more you ramble, the more it seems like you’re trying to distract them.

Instead, give simple answers to their basic questions, and don’t start digging holes for yourself by telling stories that don’t matter. Tell the truth as often as possible and don’t give them the chance to catch you in a lie. After all, the most believable stories are usually the simplest.

If you’ve followed these steps but things still seem to be going south, remain calm! You’re not totally screwed just yet. Here’s what you can do to make the best of a bad situation that’s getting worse.

Step 6: Politely Refuse a Search

If the officer requests to search your vehicle, you are within your Fourth Amendment to decline their request. Don’t get mad or start acting rude. Instead, simply say “I do not consent to your search without a warrant.” Sometimes the cop will back off, other times, the cop will call in a K-9. This doesn’t mean game over. Even if the cop winds up in your vehicle and finds your marijuana, an illegal search can invalidate their findings in court. If they threaten to call a K-9, call their bluff. The longer that dog takes to arrive, the more their “reasonable search” begins to fall apart.

Step 7: Never Admit Anything

If worse comes to worst and the cops find your stash, now is the time to remain silent. The cops don’t care if it’s for your brother-in-law’s bachelor party or your mom with cancer. All they hear is you admitting that you knew marijuana was in your car, and that’s just about all they need to successfully convict you of possession. Instead, stay calm and remain silent. Depending on your specific circumstances, the cop might just issue you a citation and let you go anyways. In any case, once they have the evidence in hand, nothing you can say will reverse the situation. Remain silent, remain calm and call a lawyer as soon as you can.

Step 8: Get Quality Defense on Your Side

Marijuana charges don’t have to ruin your life. Just because the cop caught you “green-handed” doesn’t mean you’re automatically convicted. Marijuana charges can be fought, and they can be won.

If you’ve been unfairly arrested for marijuana possession, don’t just take the plea! Contact the aggressive defense attorneys at Thiessen Law Firm to schedule a free consultation, and we’ll do everything possible to make your case go up in smoke!

Thiessen Law Firm

Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.