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What to do if you are stopped by the police?

Posted on October 15th, 2017 by Oddo & Babat, P.C.

Nearly every American will be stopped by the police at some point or another, which begs the question, what should I do if I am pulled over? Of course, the answer to this question can vary, depending on the reason that you were pulled over, but the advise remains generally the same.

First, you need to pull your vehicle over at the soonest safe opportunity. If you are in a location where there is not place to pull over, turn on your hazard signals to notify the police officer that you recognize you are being stopped. Once your vehicle is stopped, keep your hazard lights on to notify other drivers that your vehicle is on the side of the road; this will increase both your safety and the officer’s safety. Additionally, you should turn your vehicle off. This will notify the officer that you do not plan on running away as soon as he gets out of his car. If it is dark outside, you may want to turn your interior lights on so that the officer can see you and understand that you are not a threat to his safety.

The next thing you should do is to get your license, registration, and proof of insurance ready before the officer even comes to your window. This will help to both shorten the duration of the stop, as well as prevent you from needing to reach into compartments while the officer is in your presence, reducing the likelihood that the officer will fear for his safety.

When you speak with the officer, be sure to be polite and courteous. Officers generally have a significant amount of discretion with charges to press, and you want the officer to like you. If you don’t think the officer had the right to pull you over, keep that information to yourself and inform your attorney after the stop has completed. Arguing with the officer will not benefit you. However, refrain from admitting to any wrongdoing, as this can be used against you later.

Police officers generally cannot search your vehicle merely because you have been stopped, however extenuating circumstances can give rise to the officers right to search. If an officer asks you if they can search your car, politely inform them that you would rather they did not and you would like to be on your way. Even when an officer would not otherwise have the right to search your vehicle, giving them permission does give them that right. If however, they assert that they have the right to search your vehicle, do not interfere. Inform your attorney after the incident has concluded and they will help determine whether the officer had the right in the first place. If the officer did not have the right to search your vehicle, and your consent was involuntary, an attorney may be able to exclude any evidence obtained from the illegal search from being considered by the court.

After the incident has concluded, if the officer issues a citation, you may want to consult with an experienced attorney such as the Traffic ticket attorney locals turn to. Many driving infractions, even minor ones, can result in points being placed on your license thereby increasing insurance premiums and the risk that you may accumulate enough points to have your license suspended or revoked. Furthermore, for many driving infractions, an attorney may be able to appear in court on your behalf without your personal appearance even being necessary.

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