Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What they Should Teach in College: Lawful Orders Versus Lawful Requests

from antiauthoritarian.net
This is Anti-authority Behavior

I doubt whether Cornell University or Ithaca College have in courses or even classes in dealing with authority. I know I have gone through many years of college including law school, and I was never taught the basics of orders and requests.

Basic Human Rights and the Police: What do I have to do?

A crucial difference: Lawful orders vs. lawful requests?


What to do when the police tell you what to do is sometimes a neglected aspect of our education. Basic human rights or constitutional rights 101 should I believe explain the difference between a lawful request and a lawful order by those in authority. This is even more important in the instance of a DWI arrest.

First, Who can issue requests and orders?

I love the show South Park, and when Cartman says, "respect my authority" I always think of those amongst us who actually have it. Any law enforcement officer (LEO) will have AUTHORITY, which includes btw troopers, deputies, corrections officers, court bailiffs, TSA, and even traffic control (meter readers) can order or request you to do something. Sometimes, everything sounds like a command especially when it comes from someone in uniform, with a badge, and a gun. NOTE: NYS State Troopers do not have badges.

You Can't Always Tell the Difference?

"Please move your car" is an order BUT "Move your car please," is a polite request but both will carry the same weight. Non-compliance will be punished. Requests and orders may be as simple as to move your car (from an unpermitted spot on the street), or take off your hat (in court), or to hand over your phone (going into court) or they may be much more personally invasive as in you giving a sample of breath, urine, or blood.

NOTE: Sometimes, the simple question is this an ORDER or a REQUEST? will save the day.

Second, When MUST you comply? 

I hear this all the time, but the police said "I HAD TO."

Depending upon what is being asked will determine the consequences of whether you decide to OR to decline to act. If you are being ORDERED to do something then the consequences of non-compliance are way higher (criminal charges, arrest, and jail) than if you are being REQUESTED to do something.

Have to or must is not really the best question to ask, better to ponder what will happen if I am non-compliant with authority?

NOTE: FOLLOW POLICE ORDERS

Example: You are pulled over for speeding, the officer can order you out of the car, he can request you do field sobriety tests, he can request you take a roadside breath test, he can order you to move to the curb, to turn around, and place you in custody. He can then take you back to station and make a request of your blood or breath.

Each stage is a DECISION POINT. Do you or don't you?

Safety First and Foremost! Orders are generally to prove safety.

Overall, any thing that is to ensure or assure officer or public safety is an ORDER, non-compliance of an ORDER will likely land you under arrest and in jail or worse tased (by a taser). Remember that The Stop of a Car at Roadside is the MOST dangerous situation that a police officer will have to deal with.

When is it an ORDER and when is it merely a REQUEST? 

So for the sake of importance I reiterate: Sometimes you just have to ask? 


Is this an order or is this a request?


All ORDERS have punishments, some with severe criminal charges. 


BUT requests may or may not have punishments.


  • Requests for a breath test at roadside are a violation (a traffic ticket) penalties (fines).
  • Requests for a chemical test (blood or breath sample) carry driver's license penalties (revocation). 
  • Requests for taking roadside field sobriety tests have NO penalties.
  • Requests to take drug recognition tests back at the station have NO penalties.
  • Requests to answer questions have NO penalties.


Some REQUESTS may have non-criminal consequences, like new violations.

Some severe consequences of refusing an ORDRER could be: new charges, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration, etc.

Always remember to consult with an attorney about any criminal or non-criminal charges you have pending to discuss your options and/or defenses.


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