First of all, if a police car wants you to pull over, pull over right away. Pullover sensibly uses your turn indicator, travel at a reasonable speed, and park well out of traffic, and usually if you can pull over to the right. You want to avoid irritating the police officer, and you also want to stop close to the point where you’ve supposedly committed a violation so that you can evaluate the officer s claims about the violation. You may want to revisit the site later.
You can legally record your interaction with the police, but don’t be confrontational about it. Keep in mind throughout a traffic stop that you want to appear to be cooperative, you want to provide the officer with your driver’s license and proof of insurance, but you don’t want (or have to) answer questions.
Ordinarily, the police aren’t allowed to search your vehicle, and you need to make sure you don’t give them any excuses. If they ask to search your vehicle, you do not have to give them permission. If it looks as if you’re hiding something if you put something under the seat or throw something out the window that may give the officer a legal justification for searching your car. If the officer has a reason to believe you are rearmed and dangerous, he or she can pat you down. The police may be able to search your car if they have a reasonable basis for believing that you have been involved in criminal activity.
If you have illegal objects in your car in plain view, these can legally be seized. The officer can open the door to get illegal objects, and if more illegal objects are revealed, those can be seized, too. If you’re arrested or if the police have a warrant, they can also search the car. You should never consent to a search regardless of whether any of these factors are present.
If asked to step out of the car, you should comply. You can refuse a Breathalyzer test. You may risk having your license suspended, but there is less proof of intoxication, which may be beneficial if your blood alcohol level is far above the legal limit. You can also refuse to take a field sobriety test. If the police suspect you of drug use, they can take you back to the station for a blood test.
You can’t be detained for an unreasonable length of time, though just how long “unreasonable” is isn’t clearly defined. If your license is valid and you don’t have outstanding warrants, you should be released. You can ask for an officer’s name and badge number if you feel your rights are being violated.
The two most important things to remember during a traffic stop are to stay calm and to not answer questions without an attorney present. If you have any further questions, or if you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, we can assist. Please contact us today for more information!