Driving to Bonaroo? How do I not go to their special court?

Published: Friday, August 19th, 2016
Written by: Amanda Gentry


Millions of people in America drive with something or another inside a car that may or may not be legal. It could be you’re on the way to Bonaroo, like almost 300 people this year in Manchester TN, and get pulled over, totally sober, on your way to an event. On your way to Muddy Roots, the Junebug Boogie, Comiccon or even the CMA awards, carrying something you shouldn’t.

How would you like to make another special trip to a city where nothing else happens most of the year just to attend court, and pay for a marijuana defense attorney for the joints you planned to smoke at the festival?

You could also not know you are carrying something illegal. Your friend might have cocaine. Your grandmother left her pill bottle in your car. It might be you stepped on a roach of marijuana outside, and now it’s in your floorboard. You can never know for sure, unless you’re always alone and no one else drives your car. Ever.

Before you drive a car

Keep a folder in the car with your registration and insurance information in it that you can hand the officer, before you go anywhere. Make sure your vehicle isn’t covered in Greatful Dead bears, ICP stickers (they were even declared a gang and grounds for a search at one time) and other things that might cause you to be targeted. Don’t break traffic laws.

What to do when pulled over

Don’t get excited or argue it is never going to help you, furthermore, you’re going to look stupid when they play the video of you acting like an idiot if you do need to go to court.

Remain calm and say “no thank you I do not consent” to “do you consent to be searched?” Don’t do anything else without speaking to an attorney (preferably me obviously). ACLU has a great video that is 45 minutes long on the topic at ”Busted: The Citizen’s Guide to Surviving Police Encounters”, but a quick summary:

Pull over in a safe area
Turn off engine, turn on cabin lights, roll down your window
Follow all orders – Ask if it’s an order or request, they’ll tell you
Keep your hands visible – Do not get angry or argue, it will not help ever
Ask to see the search warrant
Don’t consent to be searched
Don’t destroy evidence
If asked to get out, lock the car

If they ask you to get out of the vehicle, do what they say, but don’t open the vehicle for them without seeing a warrant. Lock your car when you get out. They’re allowed to perform a pat down and visual search of your person, but don’t consent to searches, politely, and don’t admit you committed a crime, doing so gives up your constitutional rights. If they want to unlock the car themselves and open it, without your consent, allow it, say “I do not consent, here is the key if you want to open it yourself,” give them the key. Don’t open it for them, it’s possibly consent, until you see a warrant.

What about dogs?

If they say it’s a dog that gave them permission, give them the keys, and say you don’t consent. Your consent gives away your 4th Amendment rights. Dogs are still not necessarily judges, but you opening the car is consent.

Don’t try to hide things when pulled over, don’t try to destroy evidence. Destruction of evidence is a separate crime, that can turn something possibly minor into much worse. Couple Texas attorneys made a great song for remembering it “Don’t eat your weed.”

If you need an attorney for Bonaroo, Muddy Roots, or even the CMAs, the Law Office of Amanda J. Gentry is available for free consultation at (615) 604-6263, or fill out our contact form.