Smith, Dickey & Dempster P.A.
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What to do in a traffic stop

Whenever you see the blue lights flashing behind you, you may also experience a moment of panic as you worry about how to minimize whatever damage is potentially on the way. This a normal fear, but it is important to remain calm and understand your rights so you can keep them protected throughout the interaction.

If you do receive a ticket or criminal charges during the traffic stop, then you should make sure that you understand your legal rights and build a defense as soon as you can. Your prosecution is already building its case against you, and the longer you wait to build your defense, the fewer options you may have.

Protect your rights before the officer even reaches your window

When you seen blue flashing lights in your rear view mirror, it is wise to pull over safely and promptly. Not only does this signal to the officer that you are not interested in conflict, it also keep you relatively close to the site of your alleged violation, if the officer claims you broke the law. 

During the stop

It is wise to remain in control of your demeanor. You cannot control the attitude of the officer, which may be calm and professional or aggressive. You can, however, control your own behavior, which is useful in avoiding necessary charges. Some officers may use an aggressive approach to see if a suspect reacts in a volatile way, which is questionable at best. Simply remain calm, roll down your window, turn off the engine and say as little as you can while complying with the officer.

Remaining quiet during a stop

As soon as an officer initiates the stop, he or she begins collecting evidence. This includes everything that you might say during your stop. However, an officer does not have to read you your Miranda rights until you are in custody and under interrogation. If the officer does not place you in custody, he or she may ask you many questions without reading you your Miranda rights.

It is good to remain cooperative but silent, and if the officer asks you any questions you do not wish to answer, you can simply say that you do not wish to answer any more questions without your attorney present.

Were your other rights violated?

An officer who pulls you over does not have automatic permission to search your car unless:

  • You behave in a way that may indicate a crime
  • The officer can see evidence that suggests a crime
  • You give the officer permission to search the vehicle

If an officer unlawfully searches your vehicle, or violates your rightist some other way, it is important to recognize that this may invalidate the charges. Don't hesitate to use all the tools you have at your disposal to protect yourself and your future.

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