So, you were speeding through traffic and got pulled over by a police officer? Or maybe you neglected to put on your seatbelt and felt the full fury of Clickit-or-Ticket. It could be that you were just randomly pulled over for no fault of your own; in these instances, you need to know how to act to best help your case.
How to Best Help Your Case During a Police Stop
That very first moment you see the blare of police headlights behind you, the wheels of fate start rolling. How you react can help to decide your destiny. Not only can it change the officer’s response to you, but your actions can have an impact on your case in court.
Because of this, we have put together some tips to help your case in the event that you receive a traffic violation.
Traffic Violations: How to React
The very first thing you should do when you see the flashing lights of a cop car is pull-over to the right. Do this quickly and safely, making sure that the place you stop is safe for both you and the officer.
Some people assume that pulling over once an office is behind you is admitting that you have done something wrong. This, of course, is a bad assumption. The truth is, pulling over as soon as possible signals the office that you are alert and aware of your surroundings. It also signifies that you may not have anything to hide, as your first instinct was not to run. For instance, driving a stolen car, you might debate your options for a minute or two before pulling over. Or speeding away, depending on your decision!
Another benefit of pulling over quickly is that you can gather pertinent information. Knowing why, where, and when you get pulled over can be your ticket to, well, getting out of a ticket.
Finally, police are people too. They are subject to having bad days as well. Pulling over promptly and safely will help by not adding undue stress to the officer.
Remember the Rules of the Road and Be Courteous
When pulling over, always remember to practice the rules of the road. Do not slam on your breaks or cut off people in traffic. Always use a turn signal if you need to move over a lane or two. Keep both hands in the proper position on the steering wheel and, above all else, don’t panic.
Once you have come to a full stop, consider turning off your engine. This will help set the officer at ease since you are less likely to be a flight risk. Switch off the radio and roll down your window all the way. Do not make sudden, erratic movements or reach into your glove box. Instead, put your hands on the steering wheel and face forward.
As the officer approaches your vehicle, stay seated. Do not climb out of your vehicle unless the officer asks you. Wait until the officer addresses you and asks for your identification and registration before reaching for them. You do not want to risk him thinking you are reaching for a gun or hiding something. Remain friendly and courteous; now is not the time to show your indignation.
To Search or Not To Search
There are many misconceptions regarding whether a police officer has the right to search your vehicle. Under most state laws and normal circumstances, they may not search your vehicle for a routine traffic violation. However, if you exhibit odd behavior or have incriminating evidence visible (think open beer bottles), they may search your vehicle.
Also, if you are taken into custody and the officer tows your vehicle, a search can occur. This is known as an “inventory” search, during which they may find illegal items.
If an officer suspects that you are dangerous – due to your driving or your behavior – they can perform a pat-down search. This applies to your outer clothing only. If they feel anything that may be a weapon, they can enter your pocket or clothing to retrieve it. This also goes for compartments within your car, if the officer feels you are a threat.
Finally, an officer may not search your cell phone, tablet, or computer without a warrant or your permission.
Here are some more traffic violation tips from the American Civil Liberties Union website.
Contact An Attorney to Help Your Case
Always consult with an attorney in the event that you receive a traffic violation. If you receive a parking ticket or are taken to jail for illegal substances, an attorney can help your case. Consider contacting a lawyer such as attorney Chad Bank, who has the experience to help defend your case in court.