Flashing police lights in your rearview mirror is never a welcomed site. Why am I being pulled over? How long was the cop behind me? These are common questions that may run through your head as soon as you see the police behind you.
How to protect yourself after being pulled over
It is important to understand your rights, including what to do and what not to do during a traffic stop. You should pull over to a safe area and pay attention to your surroundings in case there are any obstructed views that may have made it difficult for the police to see your vehicle commit an alleged violation.
You can better protect your rights by following the tips below if you are pulled over by the police:
- Be polite when speaking to the officer. You should wait until the officer asks to see identification or proof of insurance to avoid any misunderstandings. Do not make any sudden movements unless the officer asks you for something.
- Do not give the police a reason to search your vehicle. Do not throw anything out the vehicle or try to hide something from the police as it may only give them a reason to search your car.
- Do not argue with the police and be careful with anything you tell him or her. Your statements during a traffic stop can be used against you in a criminal case so it is best to avoid saying anything that may incriminate you later on. This includes answering questions about where you came from or where you are going.
When can the police search your vehicle?
The police do not have the right to search your vehicle during a traffic stop unless they believe you are armed or dangerous, if they think you are attempting to hide something or if you threw something out of the vehicle. The police do have the right to search your vehicle if they view something in “plain view” that is suspicious, such as illegal drugs or alcohol. The police can also search your vehicle if you or any passengers are arrested.
It is difficult to know what to do when the police have pulled you over, but remember this: Criminal charges can stem from a traffic stop. Follow these tips in the event you are pulled over, and remember that you have the right to contact an attorney. Knowing what to do and what behaviors to avoid during a traffic stop can ease some of your fears and protect your rights.