Being pulled over by the authorities, known as a traffic stop, can be a nerve-racking experience, especially when it is your first time or if you do not have any idea of what you’ve done wrong. But don’t panic, breathe, and remember that what you do and say can be critical and may have an immense effect on any legal proceeding that might follow, whether it be a simple violation or a more serious crime. Surviving a traffic stop will greatly depend on your next actions.
Pull over safely, using signals to indicate lane change, and come to a complete stop in a safe place. This action demonstrates your alertness and focus on the things that are happening around you and is not necessarily an admission of guilt. When you pull over safely, you’ll have a better chance of figuring what went wrong and what you need to do next.
A valid license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance are the most important things you need to have in a traffic stop. It is important that these things are all visible and within your reach but do not proactively hand them over to the officers. When they ask for such, you should not have to check underneath your seat, grab your bag, or open anything in your car just to get these items. Reaching out for something will never look good in traffic stop situations.
The officer will be attentive to your every move and a slight movement might suggest that you’re attempting to cover up or hide anything. A traffic stop can be very stressful but it is not an excuse for you to be overly nervous. Be sure to stay calm as any sudden movement, especially getting out of your vehicle without being asked, can be perceived as a threat or an attempt to flee.
Showing courtesy might go a long way in traffic stop situations. Be polite and follow the officer’s directives. An officer is normally not allowed to search your vehicle but there are exceptions to this rule. You would not want to give them any reason that might lead to this exception. You should let the officer talk and you should respond when appropriate. Sometimes, it can be tough to gauge the right answer or know exactly what to say, but regardless of the situation, do not argue.
Simple warning and violations don’t necessarily require assistance from a lawyer. Sometimes, all you need is to accept it, know the violation, and learn from your mistake. Some officers might even give you a valuable tip on how you can avoid such situations in the future.
For more serious accusations and violations, it is always best to consult an attorney. A good and knowledgeable lawyer will help you determine whether there is a basis for the violation and will be able to guide you through the process and provide advice on how you should deal with it.