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There’s a long history of disconnect between true rockers and the fuzz. Dead Kennedys wrote “Police Truck” almost forty years ago. NWA had their infamous Detroit Show almost thirty years ago (if you saw Straight Outta Compton [the movie], then you know exactly what I’m talking about). And there are so many instances of policemen and women boycotting musicians in this country over anti-cop lyrics, speeches, and sentiments that Pitchfork wrote an entire article entitled “A History of Police Boycotting Musicians in America”. Now not all - I would guess that not even most - police officers are abusive authority figures. But many are, for good or bad, taught to profile, and your sketchy tour van sticks out like a sore thumb, I’m sad to say. Never fear though, I’m here to help you not get pulled over (well, not as much) and to prepare you if it happens anyway. Here we go!

Have Things Up to Par

The first thing you can do to prevent things from getting weird with the police is to make sure your van is legally up to par - that is, it has passed an emissions test, you have proper registration and plates, and enough seat belts are installed. In addition, you should know about driving and vehicle laws in each state you’re going to on tour. You should also know how to do emergency car maintenance (for instance, how to change a flat tire). This is for if you have to pull over onto the shoulder of a busy highway to fix the problem. You’ll want to do it as quickly as possible, hopefully before an officer shows up and asks you what you’re doing. Some cops will help, but some cops may not like the look of you. And of course, make sure everyone’s wearing their seat belts if you get pulled over and that anything illegal is put out of sight (for those of you that partake).

Be Kind and Courteous

This should go without saying, but the worst thing you could do for yourself in this kind of situation is to be a dick to someone with the power to arrest you. Have your license, registration, and any other necessary information on hand, make sure to be respectful to the man or woman pulling you over, and do not give them any reasons to distrust you. Again, your van is a cop magnet, so if they’re pulling you over there’s a chance they already think you look sketchy, even if you were making some kind of traffic violation to warrant it. Don’t put any fuel in that fire by mouthing off to them. Say thank you, call them “Officer” and then hopefully you’ll be on your way.

Know Your Rights

This is always a tough one to talk about with all of the police violence that’s in the news, but hey, it is important. Again, I’m not saying all cops will harass you or that all cops are bad, but I think most of us know someone who’s dealt with a rude or abusive cop (including myself). So being reasonably careful is okay. Know your rights and while you must be respectful, you should also know your rights. So that way, if the said officer is abusing their power, you’ll be able to avoid unwarranted conflict. You don’t want to find yourself not knowing what to do in a bad situation you don’t want to be in.

Act Fast

If you get a ticket, take care of that sucker ASAP. If you have the cash, you might be able to shoot the payment out from your next tour stop (which hopefully isn’t too far from where you were given the ticket). Obviously if somebody gets arrested, the rest of you are probably going to work to get them out (hopefully band money will cover part of bail). But keep your fingers crossed that won’t happen. Thankfully I haven’t heard of this happening too many times. If there’s something wrong with your vehicle that the officer pointed out, get it taken care of quickly. If you get off with a warning (some states can ticket for that sort of thing), then you especially need to get it taken care of soon. You don’t want to get pulled over again, and to get a ticket if an officer somehow finds out you’ve been warned for the same offence in the recent past. So take care of everything you can as soon as possible, and enjoy the rest of your tour.

Ever been pulled over on the road? Let me hear about it. Reach out to me on Twitter @Robolitious.

This was a guest post by Rob Lanterman of Hidden Home Records. Follow him on Twitter @Robolitious



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