5 Tips for When You Have Been Pulled Over
Anytime you see flashing red and blue lights in your rear-view window, it is easy to feel nervous. It is important, however, to stay calm. By knowing your rights, you can avoid any extra trouble and assure that you are not taken advantage of. So long as you adhere to the following rules, you should have minimal trouble with the police when you have been pulled over.
- When you are flagged down by a police car, pull over safety and quickly. A fast way to get off on the wrong foot with a police officer is to take too long after an officer signals for you to pull over. It is best to get out of traffic as quickly as possible. Make sure that you signal when you change lanes and that you don’t break any other traffic laws or you could earn another citation.
- Roll down your window all the way. This helps you communicate with the police officer. It also helps show that you are not hiding anything and allays any suspicions that the officer may have. If you are not sure the person is actually a police officer, you can ask for their badge number and ID to call in.
- Keep your hands where the officer can see them. The most dangerous part for a police officer is approaching the car. The police don’t yet know whom you are or if you may be dangerous. Don’t rummage around for your wallet or look in the glove compartment for your registration until you are asked to get it out. For all the officer knows, you may be looking for a gun. It is also important not to give them any reason to search your car. If the officer sees you hide something under the seat, they may have probable cause to search your car. It is best to keep your hands on the wheel while the officer approaches.
- Let the police officer speak first. Wait until the officer asks you any questions before you speak. They usually will ask for your license and registration first. Many people make the mistake of asking what they did wrong before complying. This can be considered hostility. It is best to simply hand over your documents and stay quiet.
- Don’t admit to any wrongdoing or it can be used against you in court. Remember that anything you say can be used against you in court. When an officer asks you if you know why you were pulled over, it is just best to simply answer “no” and neither confirm or deny anything you are ticketed for. However, if you are careless or negligent in knowing whether or not you committed a crime, you can also be held responsible. If the officer asks you if you know how fast you were going, simply answer “yes” and do not elaborate.
What if the police ask to search my car?
Police officers need probable cause in order to search you car without your permission. This means that they generally cannot do so without a warrant. So long as you do not have any illegal items in plain view in the car and they did not see you attempt to hide anything when they pulled you over, you may politely refuse any search of your car. A police officer can, however pat you down if they have reasonable suspicion that you may be dangerous. They can also require you and your passengers to get out of the car while they write you a ticket. You should comply with these requests. Generally, if a police officer does not think that they have significant probable cause to search your vehicle they will ask you to consent to a search. You have the right to say no without having to justify yourself under the 4th Amendment. If you feel that your car was searched without probable cause, you should contact a lawyer.
In general, knowing your rights and acting in a calm manner when you are pulled over can protect you from problems with the police. If you ever feel your rights were violated during a traffic stop, contact us to discuss your case further at (412) 281-2146.