Nothing strikes more fear into the heart of a driver than seeing the flashing red and blue lights in their rearview mirror. If you’ve ever been pulled over by the police in the past, you know that the way in which you interact with the office can have a huge impact on whether you drive away with a warning, or get a ticket.
When it comes to dealing with an officer during a traffic stops, there are several do’s and don’ts you should follow to ensure the interaction goes smoothly. Keep reading to find out what to do.
Do Know Your Rights
Before you get behind the wheel again, it’s important to know your rights in case you’re ever pulled over. For example, you have the right to remain silent and the right to refuse a breathalyzer or perform any other field sobriety tests.
In addition, in most states, there are only a handful of circumstances that allow a police officer to search your vehicle without a warrant. Here are a few:
- You are placed under arrest. If this occurs, the officer has the right to lawfully search your vehicle.
- You give the officer permission to search your car. If you allow the search, the officer can hold anything they find against you, if you are brought to trial.
- If the officer sees something that gives him probable cause to search the vehicle. For instance, if you have a loaded pistol on your passenger seat, and the officer can clearly see it, they have the right to search your vehicle.
If you know your rights, you have a better chance of being treated fairly.
Do Remain Calm and Cooperative
When you see the flashing lights behind you, it’s important to pull over as quickly as possible. Try to pull off the road and into a well-lit, safe area. Wait for the police officer to approach you before rolling your window down. Make sure to keep your hands on the wheel and speak calmly and clearly to the officer. If it’s dark outside, turn on your dome light.
Wait for the officer to ask for your license and registration. Don’t go into your center console or glove compartment before the officer asks to see any identification. The officer might mistakenly believe you’re reaching for a weapon.
When the officer begins asking you questions, answer them politely. However, be aware that the officer is trained to ask you questions that can incriminate you. Remember, you have the right to remain silent, and speaking while you’re nervous may cause you to provide more information than you need to.
Don’t Get Defensive or Start Asking Questions
For many drivers, their first reaction when seeing a police officer approaching their vehicle is to begin questioning the officer’s reason for pulling them over. This is always a bad idea because to the officer, your outburst can be misconstrued as belligerent, which might end up with you needlessly going to jail.
Also, avoid trying to talk the officer out of the ticket, and never tell them about all your police officer friends. The officer is trying to do his or her job, and any attempts to persuade the officer will likely make him or her more annoyed, which isn’t good for you.
Don’t Hesitate to Contact an Attorney
Finally, if you believe your rights as a citizen have been violated, the officer didn’t have valid reason for pulling you over, of if you were arrested on the scene, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney. Remember, you have the right to dispute the traffic ticket, and if you believe you were pulled over needlessly, you have the right to defend yourself in court.
If you’ve recently been pulled over by a police officer and need help with your case, don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at Mesenbourg & Sarratori Law Offices, P.A.