13 Traffic Stop Tips
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13 Traffic Stop Tips
IF YOU ARE STOPPED BY THE POLICE
1. Remain calm.
2. Be respectful, not confrontational.
3. Stay in the car. Sit patiently, and wait for the officer to approach your vehicle. If it is dark outside, turn on the interior light.
4. Produce your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance when the officer asks you to do so. Don’t start rummaging around for these items until the officer asks for them. The officer will be watching you and may wonder whether you are, in fact, searching for weapon. Caution: If you have a gun (or other weapon) in the glove compartment, do not open the glove compartment for any reason, even if you are licensed to carry the weapon. Keep your hands on the steering wheel and tell the officer about the gun. Ask the officer if he would like to retrieve it.
5. Answer “identification” questions. Otherwise, try to say as little as possible. If the officer asks, “Do you know why I stopped you?” A simple “No,” is all you need to say.
6. If you are asked to get out the car, do so. Close the door behind you. Keep your hands in plain sight. Once you are outside the vehicle, the officer may pat you down for weapons if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that you might be armed or pose a danger to him.
7. Do not consent to a search. If you are asked to consent to a search – of your purse/backpack, your pockets, the interior of the car, the trunk – say NO. If the officer is asking for permission to search, that means he has no other legal justification to search you. You have a 4th Amendment right to refuse his request. Exercise that right. Say, “No. I do not consent to a search.” Any passengers in the car should do the same.
8. If the officer writes you a ticket (a traffic citation), sign it. Don’t fight the ticket there on the street.
13 Traffic Stop Tips continued below…
IF THE TRAFFIC STOP LEADS TO AN ARREST
9. Know your rights. When you are taken into custody, you have certain constitutional rights: the right to remain silent; the right to consult with a lawyer; and the right to have a lawyer present during questioning by the police.
10. Immediately assert your rights. You can lose these rights if you don’t speak up and assert them. Say, for example:
• “I respectfully refuse to answer based on my Fifth Amendment privilege. Please direct any further questions to my lawyer.” or
• “I do not want to talk or answer questions. I want a lawyer.” or
• “I wish to remain silent. I will not talk or answer questions until I have consulted with a lawyer.”
11. Remain silent. Once you have asserted your rights, be quiet. Do not say anything else until you have consulted with a lawyer. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint a lawyer to represent you, at no cost to you.
12. Do not consent to a search. The officer will search you “incident to the arrest.” Your car may be searched if the officer reasonably believes that evidence of the crime for which you are being arrested might be found in the car. The officer does not need your permission to conduct these searches. If, however, the officer asks for permission to conduct any other type of search, this means he has no other grounds to justify the search. Say, “No.”
13. Call your lawyer. At your first opportunity, call an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Your lawyer can work to get you released on bail; counsel you if the prosecutor offers a plea; and take steps to ensure that your rights are respected from the outset of your case.
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