It’s spring time, which means that more police officers are out there patrolling the roads. With more police on the roads on the lookout for drunk drivers and those exhibiting erratic behavior, you’re more likely to experience a traffic stop.
While many traffic stops end without incident, some result in a ticket or even an arrest and criminal charges. When you are in the middle of the traffic stop, it is not always easy to keep cool and maintain composure. With a little preparation, you can ensure that you know just what to do next time you get pulled over.
Stay calm and protect your rights
Staying calm and giving out as little information about yourself as possible is almost always the safest and most effective way to keep a traffic stop from escalating. Even if you are innocent of any wrongdoing, a police officer may have his or her own reasons to look for trouble where there isn’t any.
What to do before the officer comes to your vehicle
When you first see the blue lights flashing, pull over in a place where the officer can safely approach your vehicle. If you’re pulling off the shoulder, make sure you’re far enough off to keep the officer safe.
Once the officer approaches the window, keep your hands on the steering wheel until you communicate with the officer to move them.
What to do once the officer comes to your vehicle
The officer does have the right to demand your identification and registration. Other than this, you may legally refuse to answer any other questions. It is important to remember that the officer is currently conducting a preliminary investigation during your traffic stop, to identify any grounds to give you a ticket or charges.
The officer is also allowed to observe your car and may use something that is clearly visible as probable cause to initiate a search. However, without a search warrant for your vehicle or the presence of some visible, illegal thing (or a notable smell, such as alcohol), the officer cannot freely search your vehicle without your permission. In almost all cases, you should never freely let a police officer search your vehicle, or give any more information than you have to.
However, some officers violate your rights during the course of a traffic stop, which is useful when defending you against charges.
A strong criminal defense lawyer can help you get strong results
No matter what your traffic stop problem may be — DUI, drug possession, or something else — it is important to keep your future in mind. While some people may believe that it is fine to simply take your licks and ride it out, you may forfeit more than you realize by simply accepting charges.
It is always wise to fight the charges with everything that you can. You owe yourself the best defense that you can obtain. With proper legal guidance, you can rest assured that your rights remain protected while an experienced attorney fights on your behalf.