Traffic stops can be an understandably stressful experience, but as long as you act calmly, there’s nothing to worry about. Regardless of whether you’ve committed an offense, law enforcement officers don’t want to escalate the situation—they just want to do their job and move on with their day.
That being said, it’s important to be aware of your rights during a traffic stop so you can protect yourself and improve your odds in any potential court case you may have to go through. Here’s a quick overview from a criminal defense attorney in Lubbock, TX of what you should know when getting pulled over.
What to do when you hear sirens
The first step in a traffic stop is actually coming to a stop. If you hear sirens behind you and see a police car approaching, you should immediately turn on your blinker to signal you acknowledge the officer’s intent to pull you over. Pull over when it is safe to do so—you may need to move over a lane first, or get to an area where there is a shoulder or parking area. The officer will appreciate you choosing a safe location, rather than the middle of a lane or in an area with heavy traffic.
The traffic stop
Once you’re pulled over, you should stay in your car and turn off any music you’re listening to. Make sure you keep your hands on the wheel, so the officer will see where they are and not get nervous that you are trying to reach for something. You can wait until the officer gets to your window to reach for your driver’s license and proof of insurance.
When the officer approaches, roll down your window. They will likely first ask you for your license and registration, so feel free to give them this documentation at this point. If the officer requests you get out of the vehicle, you should also do this, but only exit the vehicle if instructed to do so. If you exit the vehicle without being instructed, this will almost certainly escalate the situation.
The officer will likely ask questions about where you were coming from, where you were going, who else is in the vehicle, etc. You can answer these simple questions; you are under no requirement to do so, but not answering simple fact-based questions may seem suspicious and actually work against you. That said, do not provide any more information than necessary.
There are certain mistakes and behaviors you should avoid as much as possible. Do not move things around in your car—this could make it look like you’re hiding something. Do not roll down all the windows immediately—this will make the officer suspicious. Never get hostile or argumentative with the officer—this could escalate the situation. Avoid incriminating yourself—this could damage a potential legal case.
For more information about dealing with traffic stops, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Lubbock, TX at The Law Office of Rob Biggers.
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Categorised in: Criminal Law