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What to do when an officer pulls you over

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

It can be stressful when a police officer pulls you over, especially if you do not think you have violated traffic laws. Knowing your rights and how to handle this type of situation can help you keep your cool. 
Take these steps when law enforcement makes an unexpected traffic stop. 
Provide identification 
First, the officer will ask you for your driver’s license and vehicle registration. The law requires you to provide the officer with these items. You must also step out of the car if the officer asks you to do so, but you should close the car door behind you. Always keep your hands where the officer can see them to show that you are complying with instructions and do not pose a safety threat. Place your palms in the air, in front of you or flat on your thighs. 
Understand your rights 
You do not have to answer any questions from the officer. You should simply, politely and clearly state that you are exercising your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. You also have the right to refuse if the officer requests permission to search your car. Unless the officer arrests you, you do not have to take a sobriety test. However, you can receive additional penalties if you refuse this test after an arrest.
The officer may detain you while investigating the situation, but may not keep you indefinitely without an arrest. Remaining calm can decrease your chances of experiencing an arrest. Calmly ask the officer if he or she is holding you or if you are free to go. Your passengers may also ask if they are free to go and law enforcement may not hold them without good reason. 
Usually, a traffic stop results from a suspected moving violation. If you receive a ticket, you may want to seek legal advice to decide on the most favorable course of action. Speeding, reckless driving and other offenses can impact your driving record. 

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