What to do When You’re Pulled Over By Police

When you’re pulled over by police, it’s natural for your mind to start racing. You’re panicked for a variety of reasons and it’s almost impossible to think quickly and clearly about your rights and what you should expect. Depending on your past experiences with police officers, you may also be very afraid for your safety and future.

Being prepared and understanding your rights when pulled over by police before it happens at all is the best way to feel more confident behind the wheel. You should also understand how to respond to being pulled over, so that you don’t accidentally escalate the situation further.

This post is here to tell you what you should and should not do when you’ve been pulled over by police. Then, we’ll let you know where you can get the best legal representation for everything from traffic violations to DUI charges and more.

Police Car

1. Respond Immediately and Safely

When you see the flashing lights of a police car and hear the siren, your immediate response is incredibly important. As difficult as it may be, especially if you have no idea what you did wrong, remain calm and acknowledge the officer by quickly turning on your lights. Then, look for a safe place to pull over as soon as possible.

Usually, you should pull over on the righthand side of the road. Use your turn signal to let the officer know where you plan to stop. If possible, aim for a place with a wide shoulder, so that both you and the officer don’t need to worry about being sideswiped by passing vehicles. Especially if you’re driving in the evening, try to find a place with adequate lighting, and turn on your car’s dome light for better visibility.

Never, ever get out of your vehicle without specific instruction to do so from the officer. This often indicates aggression; the officer has no idea whether or not you’re armed. When you’ve been pulled over by the police, take a few deep breaths. Keep your hands on the steering wheel in plain sight, turn off your car’s engine, and roll your window down. Your initial response sets the tone for how the rest of the interaction will evolve. Play it smart and safe.

2. Know What to Expect

It also helps to know what to expect when you’ve been pulled over by cop. First of all, you need to understand the basic concept of probable cause. This is simply an officer’s required explanation of why they felt it necessary to pull you over. Maybe your tail light is out, perhaps you ran a stop sign, or maybe your awkward, jerky driving makes it appear as though you’ve been drinking. All of these are examples of probable cause. Getting a clear explanation of this probable cause is one of your rights when pulled over, so don’t be afraid to calmly ask if the officer doesn’t tell you this information.

Next, the officer will ask to see your car’s license and registration, along with your proof of insurance. You should always ask for permission to retrieve these documents from your glove compartment or another location.

3. Understand Your Rights

It’s imperative that you know your rights when pulled over. Understanding what police can and cannot do — and knowing when you can refuse to take certain actions — can help you to avoid jail time, prevent potentially violent confrontations, and can ensure that you’re not taken advantage of.

More than anything else, understand that you have the right to remain silent and you should do so. Just because you don’t answer questions doesn’t mean an officer can arrest you on the spot. You also have the right to film an officer during the ticketing process, especially if you’re concerned about the way they’re acting.

The most important thing to know when you’re pulled over is that you can and should refuse to let an officer search your vehicle. If they say they plan to do so, say simply, “I do not consent to a search of my vehicle.” You should refuse a search even if you think you’re in the clear, you never know what someone might find.

You should also always ask if you’re “free to go” after an interaction is seemingly over. If the officer says you are not, once again, ask for their reasons in doing so.

If you’re brought to a police station, absolutely exercise your right to remain silent until you speak with a lawyer. Don’t talk about your case on the phone in a potentially incriminating way; chances are good you’re being recorded.

Do not talk about your case with an officer, don’t agree to answer any questions, and certainly don’t make any “excuses” for your behavior.

Behavior to Avoid When Pulled Over By Police

There are a few things that you certainly should not do when you’ve been pulled over by police. First of all, never forcefully resist the officer. Even if yes, you have done nothing wrong. Additionally, do not flee the scene, especially if there’s been some sort of an accident. This will make it extremely difficult for you in court, should your case go to trial.

You also should not refuse to sign any kind of a ticket, as this may lead to an arrest. Additionally, if the officer asks you to take a breathalyzer test, you shouldn’t refuse to do so. This can lead to a potential arrest, even if you haven’t been drinking. Your license may even be suspended.

If you are arrested for any reason after being pulled over by police, once again remember not to speak to anyone about the incident or answer any questions until you can speak with a legal representative.

Do You Need Legal Assistance After Being Pulled Over By Police?

Even if you follow the advice in this post, you may be arrested after being pulled over by police. You may choose to fight your ticket, report unethical behavior (such as racial profiling), or use of excessive force by an officer.

Whether you’re facing drunk driving charges, drug possession charges, or any other kind of traffic violations, you need the top legal representation to fight for your rights. At the Law Offices of Stefanie A. Murphy, we can help you with that. In addition to the above charges, we can also help you with domestic violence cases, cyber crimes, violent crimes, and even record expungement and more. Schedule your consultation with us today, and breathe a bit easier knowing you have an excellent Rhode Island criminal defense lawyer on your side.