If you get pulled over by a police officer, it’s understandable that you might be a bit nervous. After all, what you say and how you act can have a big effect on any potential legal proceedings that may follow the event. Whether you’re being pulled over for a moving violation or something more serious, it’s important that you make good choices.
Here’s an overview of the steps you should take if you get pulled over, courtesy of a criminal attorney in Lubbock, TX:
- Pull over: As soon as you see emergency lights flashing behind you, pull your vehicle over to the right as soon as it is safe to do so, and come to a complete stop. Not only is this the law, but it can also help you determine where and how you violated any traffic laws—information that could be useful in any ensuing legal defense you put together. Be sure to use your turn signal when pulling over.
- Prepare for the officer: Roll down your window, put out any lit cigarette (if applicable) and stay in the vehicle unless the officer directs you to get out. If your officer asks you for your license or registration, you can look in your wallet, but be sure to tell the officer your registration is in the glove compartment before reaching there.
- Searches: When the officer approaches your vehicle, he or she will be on the lookout for any suspicious movements or other incriminating items in plain view, including open beer or wine bottles, contraband or anything else. A single item like that in plain view could prompt a more thorough search of the vehicle, as the officers look for more incriminating objects. If you get arrested and your car is towed, the police will be able to make an inventory search of the vehicle afterward, even if there is no probable cause that there’s something illegal inside.
- Talking: You should be careful not to take a hostile tone, or to say more than necessary. Let the officer do the talking, and respond as appropriate. Keep in mind that an officer who pulls you over has probably already decided that they will or will not give you a ticket before approaching your vehicle, though there are circumstances in which your behavior may change their mind. Be cooperative and polite, but don’t feel like you have to say too much. Do not argue with the officer—that will not end well for you.
- Staying in the car: Officers do have the right to ask you to get out of the vehicle, and you should comply if they do. Officers with reason to believe you are dangerous can also conduct a pat-down search of your outer clothing. If the officer feels a weapon-like object, he or she can reach in and take it away, as well as anything else that feels like contraband.
For more information about how to conduct yourself during a traffic stop, contact a criminal attorney in Lubbock, TX at The Law Office of Rob Biggers today.
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