Please pull people over all the time for issues ranging from suspected intoxication to burned-out vehicle lights.
When you see those flashing lights behind you, you won’t have a chance to search online about how to handle a traffic stop. You need to know what to do before you find yourself waiting in your vehicle at the side of the road for an officer to approach your vehicle.
Realize that the officer doesn’t know who you are
Unless you have a personal history with the officer conducting the traffic stop, they have no way of knowing how much of a threat you might be. Officers will generally assume you are a threat until they know otherwise. Making sure your hands are visible and that you communicate your intentions clearly before reaching for anything in your vehicle can help keep you safer.
Officers must have a reason to pull you over
Traffic stops cannot be random or arbitrary. They should only occur when an officer has probable cause to believe you have committed at least a citable traffic offense. Asking why the officer pulled you over right away lets you know the reason for the stop without you needing to admit any kind of fault and lets the officer know you are aware of your rights.
Officers will try to trick you or get you to admit to doing something wrong
Many police officers who use a friendly approach during traffic stops want to get people talking. Then, they use what those people say as their reason to issue a citation. Remember that you have the right to remain silent and that you don’t have to say anything that might implicate you.
You do not have to agree to let an officer search your vehicle
Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes people make during a traffic stop is to assume that if they comply with everything the officer requests, they will receive better treatment. When an officer asks to search your vehicle, you have no way of knowing what they might find in your car left behind by a previous owner or a recent passenger.
You have the right to ask for an attorney if they arrest you
Once an officer arrests you, you may then be in a situation to request legal representation. The sooner you have an attorney backing you up, the less likely you are to fall victim to threats or manipulations intended to get you to act against your own best interests.
Remembering your rights during a traffic stop could help protect you from criminal charges or make it easier for you to defend against them.