Being pulled over by a police officer can be frightening, especially considering recent news stories regarding police misconduct. But, if you are involved in a traffic stop and you know the do’s and don’t’s of these situations, you can protect your rights and be on your way – possibly without even receiving a ticket.
What To Do
Find a safe place to pull over – You don’t have to pull over immediately after signaled by police. You have the right to wait (within reason) until you find a safe area.
Use your turn signal when pulling over – It may sound obvious, but by using your turn signal, you will prevent the police officer from having to slam on their brakes because of an unexpected movement.
Turn off your vehicle – By doing this, you indicate to the officer that you are not thinking about fleeing. It puts his or her mind at ease in this regard.
You may record the interaction – You are legally allowed to record the event with your phone. Simply turn it on before the officer reaches your window and place it in the center console. Do not hold the phone.
Place your hands on the steering wheel – Traffic stops can be dangerous for police officers because they are putting themselves in a situation where they do not know your intentions. By having your hands in plain view, the officer can see that you are not reaching for any weapons or hiding illegal substances.
Relax and be Polite – If you seem relaxed and you are treating the officer with respect, they may be willing to be more lenient with you.
If you are arrested, ask for a lawyer – If you are being detained for any reason, asking for a lawyer will be your best bet for minimizing charges and protecting your rights. A lawyer knows the law inside and out, therefore they know the best course of action to take.
What Not To Do
Do not reach for your ID and documentation until they ask – Wait until they ask you for your documentation. Otherwise, your movements may be misinterpreted as aggressive or they may have reason to believe you’re trying to hide something.
Do not lie – You do not have to say anything when questioned if you believe it will incriminate you. By not responding to a question, you are not admitting guilt. An officer may try to pressure you, but it is your legal right to remain silent. Under no circumstances should you lie, this will make the situation worse for you if they find out you’ve mislead them. Simply do not respond.
Do not argue the ticket – If you have been given a ticket, politely accept and move on. Arguing the ticket may land you with a disorderly charge. It is best to accept the ticket and fight the charge in court.
You are not required to submit to field sobriety tests – You do not legally have to perform field sobriety tests. If you feel you may fail, inform the officer that you are unwilling to complete these actions. You will be taken to the police station for a chemical test, but these tests provide a far more accurate representation of your intoxication than a sobriety test does.
Fighting a Traffic Ticket or Charged With a DWI? Call a Lawyer
During a traffic stop, you can remain calm knowing that you have the right lawyer on your side. Thomas D. Bumgardner has years of experience handling traffic tickets and DWI charges. He will ensure your rights are protected and will work to fight charges or minimize penalty. Call today to discuss your case free of charge, (704) 887-4981