When you’re pulled over by the police, it’s normal to get anxious. Your palms might sweat, and your heart might race. And you might be worried that your nervousness will be perceived as acting suspiciously. With all these concerns swirling around, it might be difficult to know how to act during a traffic stop. Here are some tips that might make your next traffic stop easier while still protecting your rights:
- Immediately pull over: You don’t want the police to think that you’re trying to run from them. So, once you see the flashing lights in your rearview mirror, look for a place to stop. Once you stop, it’s good practice to turn off your car and keep your hands where the officer can see them.
- Avoid acting overly aggressive: Even if you think that the traffic stop lacks proper justification, try to avoid angrily voicing your opinion. This aggression may lead to conflict with law enforcement and provide them with justification to search you and your vehicle, and perhaps even place you under arrest. It may also increase the chances of a physical altercation. You certainly don’t want that to happen.
- Ask a simple question: If the police officer who stopped you starts asking you a lot of questions that don’t seem related to the reason for the traffic stop, then you simply need to ask if you’re free to go or if you’re being detained. If you’re free to go, then you can leave. If the officer says that you’re being detained, then you should consider asking if you can talk to an attorney.
- Don’t consent to a search: A lot of people who are arrested following a traffic stop find themselves in hot water because they agree to let the police search their vehicle. You don’t have to allow this kind of search. You have Constitutional protections against unwarranted searches and seizures, and most of the time police officers lack justification to forego the warrant requirement to search your vehicle. As a result, their last chance is your consent. Don’t give it to them.
- Assert your rights: Although you don’t want to come across as being aggressive, you should inform the officer that you know your rights, whether that be to be free of illegal searches and seizures or your right against self-incrimination. Remember, you don’t have to talk to the police, especially if they’re asking you questions about an alleged crime that they think that you may have committed.
If you’re arrested, consider talking to an attorney
If you’re ultimately taken into custody after your traffic stop, then you might want to think about discussing the circumstances of your arrest with a criminal defense attorney. One of these legal professionals can help you analyze the facts of your case to determine if the police acted inappropriately. If they did, then you may have several legal strategies available to you, including the suppression of evidence. This can devastate the prosecution’s case and lead to reduced charges, dismissed charges, or acquittal. In other words, an aggressive criminal defense can help you reclaim your life.
So, if you’re stressed about your arrest, take comfort knowing that you can have a legal ally on your side. All it takes is a little action on your part to choose the legal professional that you think is right for you.