Being pulled over for a traffic stop can be nerve-wracking. When you see the blue and red lights of a police car flashing behind you, you might wonder what you’ve done to receive a pullover order from the law enforcement authorities. Whatever the reason is, a traffic stop can make you nervous or agitated.
However, knowing how to behave during traffic stops can make a massive difference in the situation’s outcome. It can help prevent a simple traffic procedure from turning into a civil or criminal case. Because of this, it’s essential to prepare yourself for these frustrating road incidents.
Below are the three things you need to know and do during traffic stops:
- Know Your Legal Rights
Typically, your primary defense when being pulled over is your understanding of your legal rights. When you’re aware of your rights during a traffic stop, you can navigate the entire process without getting in trouble with the law. For instance, some things you should do to protect your rights during a pullover incident can include:
- Never depart from the traffic stop scene unless you receive a signal from the police officer that you’re free to go. If the time has gone by and you still don’t know if you should stay put at the traffic stop, politely ask the officer whether you can leave. This way, you can avoid getting charged with a possible criminal offense such as resisting an arrest due to departing prematurely.
- Unless you’re under arrest, the police officer has no right to search your vehicle without probable cause or a valid search warrant. Generally, a search warrant refers to a legal document authorizing a police officer to search and seize a person’s premises to obtain evidence for any illegal acts. Probable cause, on the other hand, refers to facts or circumstances that make a reasonably prudent man believe that a criminal offense has been committed in the area to be searched. Hence, if you think the officer has no probable cause or search warrant, you may have the right not to consent to a search during a traffic stop.
- Suppose you have a suspicion that the officer who asks you to pull over isn’t a law enforcement officer. In that case, you may have the right to ask for their badge and photo identification politely.
- Since a simple traffic stop can result in a civil or criminal case, it can be a good idea to call a lawyer to ensure protection. For example, suppose you’ve been pulled over due to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). In that case, an experienced legal professional like DUI attorney Chris McCann and others can help determine your subsequent legal courses of action.
Whether you’re asked to pull over due to an alleged over-speeding or intoxication, there are rules and regulations that police officers should follow right from the beginning. These laws are designed to protect the rights of drivers during traffic stops. Hence, when the law enforcement officers violate any of the abovementioned rights without justifiable grounds, you may file a case against them to defend your rights.
- Comply With The Instructions Of The Police Officer
Another thing you should know and do is to follow the instructions of the police officer during a traffic stop. This way, you can get the trust of the officer and resolve the situation quickly and peacefully. The following are some things you need to comply with:
- Stop as soon as you can to avoid being charged with an offense of fleeing or attempting to escape from a police officer.
- Refrain from using your mobile phones when talking to an officer.
- Don’t remove your seatbelt or exit your vehicle unless you’re instructed to do so.
- Present your driver’s license promptly.
- Avoid making unnecessary movements during the stop. Any unnecessary movements can be interpreted as an attack against the police officer. To ensure you’re not making sudden movements, keep your hands visible at all times by placing them on the steering wheel. Don’t reach for any documentation until the police officer tells you to do so.
As you can see, there are many things to consider when dealing with a pullover. Although the situation would make you feel anxious or stunned, it’s essential to stay calm to avoid doing anything that may build up the tension between you and the police officer. Remember, everything would be fine as long as you comply with the instructions from start to finish.
- Be Careful When Talking To A Police Officer
When talking to a police officer, it’s crucial to keep your cool throughout the conversation. Don’t get carried away by your emotions as it’d only make the situation worse for you. Sometimes, when you’re in a panic mode, you may tend to offer too much information. However, doing so would only make you look guilty, especially when you say something that can incriminate you.
To avoid this situation, consider doing the following things:
- Don’t be too argumentative when talking to the police officer. Instead, use polite language and tone of voice and refrain from uttering profanities that can trigger them.
- Pay attention to what the officer says by maintaining eye contact and responding to their questions with reason.
- Since law enforcement officers are skilled in letting you incriminate yourself, you need to answer their questions carefully. If you feel like they let you admit any violations, your best course is to remain silent. Under the law, silence doesn’t mean you’re guilty of an offense, so it can’t be used against you in court.
Typically, traffic stops can be a traumatic experience, especially if they can lead to criminal charges involving DUI and other traffic offenses. The police officers may use the pullover to search your car for any evidence of a criminal offense. When this happens, you may be in huge legal trouble. For example, a DUI charge and conviction may result in some consequences, including hefty fines and penalties, jail time, revocation of driver’s license, and many more.
Therefore, to prevent your traffic stop from turning into a serious charge, keep the information mentioned above, and you’re good to go. The more you’re aware of what to do, the more you can protect your rights.